Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Additionally, the law requires employers to develop a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program, which describes their responsibilities in assuring a healthy work environment. Employers must complement this program with a personal injury protocol, which is meant to help employees get information regarding the compensation they are entitled to in the event of a work accident.
This protocol specifies certain steps an employee must take before his or her case goes to the court. If the parties are unable to settle the claim, the court usually considers the pre-action protocol before anything else.
The basic principles of the personal injury protocol
Although there may be variations among the personal injury protocols of different companies, all protocols must comply with particular legal requirements. If you have been injured at work, you employer’s protocol most probably includes the following steps:
- Your advocate must send a claim letter to the accused or to his or her insurer. The letter should include your name and address, a clear summary of the facts sustaining your claim, the nature of the injury suffered, and the financial loss incurred. The defendant or the insurer has 21 calendar days to reply to this letter. If the defendant fails to reply within this time frame, you are entitled to start legal proceedings.
- If the accused replies within the specified time frame, he or she has three months to investigate the matter. During this period, the defendant or insurer must inform you or your lawyer whether liability is accepted or denied. If the accused denies liability, he or she will have to disclose the reasons for denial. If the defendant accepts liability, you have to put at his or her disposal a list of your expenses backed up with receipts.
- If expert witnesses are required, your lawyer should send a list of these professionals to the defendant, who has 14 days to decide whether he or she accepts their testimonies or not. The defendant can also propose several expert witnesses to back up his or her arguments.
Obviously, if the defendant does not accept liability, the only thing you have left is to begin legal proceedings. To find out more about the basic principles ruling your employer’s personal injury protocol, contact Accident Advice Helpline, which is ready to offer you additional details.
Issuing court proceedings
To start legal proceedings, you must send to your lawyer a comprehensive medical report mentioning all of your injuries. The report must clearly specify that the injuries you suffered were caused by the accident. Also, you should present a list of the money you paid out for travel and medical treatment together with the financial loss you incurred due to your injuries.
Once your lawyer gets all these documents, he or she will arrange to lodge with the court, a brief that sets out the legal framework for your claim. The court will then send the brief to the defendant and legal proceedings begin. During these proceedings, the court will decide whether the accused is at fault or not. Upon partial or full admission of liability, the court will set the amount of compensation the defendant must pay for the injuries you suffered.
Call Accident Advice Helpline, free, on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone for free, no-obligation advice about making a personal injury compensation claim.