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Main steps in a work-related accident claim

Here is a checklist of steps you should take if you have an accident at work:

(1) Report the accident to your employer

You should report the accident to the person your employer has designated as having responsibility for health and safety matters in the workplace. If you do not know who that person is, you should ask your manager.

When you report the accident, you should ensure that your employer's health and safety officer records it in your employer's accident book (which employers are legally obliged to keep).

In addition, when you report the accident, you should report only the facts of the accident, and should not discuss fault.

(2) Get medical attention

If your injury requires urgent attention, you will likely go directly to the nearest casualty unit, to your GP's surgery or, in some cases, to an occupational health clinic, sick bay or similar facility that your employer maintains. If that occurs, then when you are well enough you will want to make your own record of the treatment you received and a note of who treated you. That may assist your solicitor if you decide to make a claim, as it will help her gather evidence from the people who first treated your injury.

If your injury does not require urgent attention, you should nevertheless arrange to have medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. Sometimes, apparently non-urgent injuries can be more serious than they initially appear.

(3) Witnesses

If there were any witnesses to the accident you should get their names and contact details as soon as you are able to do so. If you make a claim, your solicitor may well want to collect evidence from them.

(4) Take photographs

You should take photographs of the place where the injury occurred, and you should do so as soon as possible after the accident. The scene of the accident may quickly change (if, say, you slipped on a puddle of oil on a factory floor, your employer might well clean it up immediately after your accident). Get photographs from different angles and vantage points. If equipment or tools were involved in your accident, photograph them too.

If your injuries are visible, take photographs of them. Cuts and bruises will heal and fade, so you will want to make a record of them.

(5) Make a written record

Make your own written account of the accident while your memory is fresh. You should include not only the circumstances of the accident, but also any background information that may be relevant. Background information might include a note of your job responsibilities, what you were doing when you were injured, and details of any tools or equipment you were using when you were injured.

(6) Safekeeping

Keep all of the information, photographs and records relating to your injury together and in a safe place. This will enable you to have everything readily to hand if you instruct a solicitor – and will save her time and effort as she carries out her investigation into the case.

(7) Do not admit fault or settle without advice

In some cases, your employer or your employer's insurer may press you to settle. Unless you have taken advice from a solicitor about a specific settlement offer, you should not agree to the offer and you should not admit any fault.

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