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Must you be an employee to claim for workplace injury?

By Fern Mitchell. Last Updated 7th April 2021. Welcome to our guide looking at the question, “must you be an employee to claim for a workplace injury?”. There is a common misconception among many people who are not under a contract of employment that they can not make a compensation claim for an accident at work. Many people who have been injured at work when they are not an employee do not even look at whether or not they could make a compensation claim for any injuries that they have suffered.

Even in normal circumstances, the workplace can be a very hazardous environment. When health and safety procedures are not being properly enacted or where the procedure or equipment being used are out of date, the risk of injury or illness can be increased. One of the most important responsibilities that any employer has is to ensure that their staff, whether direct employees, contractors, or temporary staff, are kept safe and free from harm whilst in the workplace.

Accidents at work can happen to a variety of people, but no matter whether you were injured during work experience or were a contractor injured at work, you may still be eligible to make a compensation claim if it can be shown that your injury or illness was caused by the negligence of another party.

To find out what to do after an accident at work, whether you are an employee or not, the best thing to do is to talk to a specialist personal injury solicitor.

In the rest of our guide below, we answer the question “do you have to be an employee to make a workplace injury claim?” as well as looking at how to make a claim and how much it could be worth. You can also find further information in the useful links section at the bottom of this guide. When ready, call our team on 0800 073 8804.

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A Guide To Workplace Injury Claims For Non-Employees

One question which is often asked when someone, such as a contractor, has been injured at work, or in the cases of accidents at work involving agency workers is whether or not these workers are entitled to the same injury at work rights (as well as other employment rights) that contracted or full-time members of staff are entitled to.

must you be an employee to claim for workplace injuryThe simplest and quickest answer to this question is yes. Whether you are a temporary worker, employed through an agency, a contractor, or even on work experience, you have the exact same legal rights to make a personal injury claim as colleagues who are employed under a contract.

Many people who are employed as either agency workers, on temporary contracts, or other similar types of contracts, may not have had their employment rights or contractor rights fully explained to them. They may also not have been given the right training, safety equipment, or employment support or have been told that they can make a compensation claim if injured.

It should also be noted that people working as temporary staff may not have been given the initial training or support necessary to carry out their job in a safe way. As such, you are more likely to be injured at work when not an employee.

Remember, if you are an agency worker, contractor, or any other type of temporary staff, you are owed the same duty of care by the business you work for.

Can I Sue A Company For An Injury On the Job If They Are Not My Employer?

The short answer to this is yes, even if you are not an employee, you can still sue an employer for an injury on the job no matter your specific employment status. No matter how you are employed, if you are injured at work, your rights are still the same.

According to legislation such as the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, all employers owe all employees a duty of care to ensure that they can carry out their job in a safe environment and with the right safety procedures in place. The act does not distinguish between different types of employees or those with different employment statuses working in their business or on their property. It simply covers all workers, whether employed part or full-time, or those employed through agencies.

What Are An Employers Responsibilities To Non-Employees?

Do you have to be an employee to make a workplace injury claim, or for them to owe you responsibilities? No matter your employment status, whether this is as a part or full-time employee on a contract, employed under a short-term arrangement or employed through a third party, you are still entitled to the same protection under employment safety legislation. An employer still needs to ensure that every worker has been given the right training and any equipment needed to carry out their work. They should be made aware of how they should carry out their duties, where they can get any support, and how they can report any accidents in the workplace, as well as how to get any first aid necessary.

As such, if you have had an accident at work as an agency worker, you have the same entitlement to seek damages through a personal injury claim as any other employee if your injury was caused by the negligence of either the employer or another employee.

If you were injured at work whilst not being a specific employee because you were not given the correct training or because they failed to make sure you had and were using the right safety equipment, we could provide you with a personal injury solicitor who can help advise you about accident at work claim amounts.

Accident At Work Not An Employee Injury Rights

Under UK law, every worker should be treated in an equal fashion. This means that you are owed the same employments rights when you start working at a business. It does not matter if you were directly hired as an employee or work through a third party. This extends through personal injury claims. Today the law does clarify that anyone working as either an agency or other form or temporary worker is entitled to the same rights. This means that they should not be dismissed after an accident at work and should be given access to the same shared facilities or other services in the workplace as are accessible to other employees. These could mean access to facilities such as the canteen, a creche for child care, tea and coffee facilities and other more important rights, such as being to claim compensation after accidents such as a back injury at work.

If you work at the same place for twelve weeks or more, you then qualify to be treated in the same way as any other employee. You should then be paid at the same rate as other employees and also be given the same amount of holidays and pension contributions.

Accident at work statistics

Information from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that in 2019/20 and the five year period leading up to this year, fatal injuries to self-employed workers made up around 30% of fatal injuries. In agriculture, forestry and fishing and administrative support services, fatal injuries to self-employed workers outnumbered fatal injuries to employees.

must you be an employee to claim for workplace injury statistics graph

workplace injury statistics graph

The most common kinds of accidents resulting in death to self-employed workers are falls from a height, followed by being struck by a moving object or vehicle.

What Should A Temporary Worker Do If They Are Injured At Work?

Now we have answered the question, “can I sue my employer for an injury on the job” we need need to look at what to do after an accident at work. The first thing you should know is that you can not be sacked for making a claim, despite what many people worry about.

Non-employees, such as someone who was injured during work experience, should take the same steps as anyone else injured at work. Any good employer will have put in place steps to make sure that all accidents in the workplace can be recorded correctly. If you are working through a temping agency, you should make sure that your accident and injuries are reported to both the place you are working in and the agency you are working through. You should make sure that the accident is logged in the accident report book.

You should also follow the other steps that regular employees will. You can find more information on the immediate steps to take before you start working with a personal injury solicitor in our guide here.

How Long Do I Have To Make A Claim After An Accident At Work?

How long do I have to make a claim after an accident at work? The standard personal injury claims time limit is three years after the date of the accident or after the date at which you discover your injuries. As personal injury claims can often take up to eighteen months to complete, it is a good idea to start your claim as early as possible to make sure that you can complete the claim within the three years you have to do so.

How To Start A Claim For An Accident In The Workplace

Whilst taking any type of legal action can seem difficult, it is not actually difficult to do if you have the right team and right solicitor or personal injury lawyer behind you. They will be able to help answer questions you may have, such as, “must you be an employee to claim for a workplace injury?”, “do I get paid if I get injured at work?” and “can you be fired for getting hurt on the job?”.

We work with a team of solicitors across the country who have many years of experience. They can help with steps such as collecting the evidence necessary to support your claim, get copies of medical reports and complete any paperwork needed. This means you can concentrate on your recovery.

Our team understands that accidents in the workplace can have serious and long-term consequences for you, and we will always try to make the process as painless as possible. We will endeavour to make the process as hassle-free as we can. By offering our clients a complete no win, no fee service, we also make sure that you won’t be under any added financial burden. The whole process can also be started with a free, no-obligation consultation where you can discuss your case in confidence. This will allow both you and our team to see how successful your claim is likely to be before starting the claims process.

Putting your trust in a personal injury claims solicitor is the most important part of any claims process. Once you decide to use Legal Expert, the hardest part of your claim is over.

Case Study: Teenager Injured Whilst On Work Experience

This is an illustrative case study to highlight the role of a good solicitor and legal team. The claim was carried out by a different company, but records are in the public domain. The case involved a teenager who was injured whilst on work experience. It highlights why companies who offer work experience should have school work experience insurance in place in case things do go wrong.

The claimant suffered an injury when unloading a heavy item from a delivery lorry. The item was being put onto a pallet on the floor when the claimant was asked to steady it. The item fell onto the claimant and trapped them on the ground, across the arms of a forklift vehicle. The claimant sustained head injuries as well as a fractured pelvis.

The accident was investigated by the HSE, who found that the employer had not carried out the risk assessments which were necessary. They had also not provided adequate training to the claimant, nor was he correctly instructed or supervised. The company was ordered to pay a fine for breaching health and safety requirements, and the claimant was awarded a total of over £12,000 in compensation from the employer and their insurers.

What Can I Claim If Injured At Work Not An Employee?

There are several basic components from which any personal injury claim can be made up. These different types or areas of compensation include the following.

Medical Expenses: this category includes any direct medical expenses that you have had to meet as a result of your accident. This could be to provide immediate treatment, ongoing medication, or long-term and rehabilitative care.

Other Care Costs: not all long-term care costs may be included in medical expenses. You may find that as a result of your accident, you need to have help around the home, such as with domestic tasks. If so, you can claim towards the costs of this.

Travel Expenses: if you have had to travel to medical appointments, such as long-term or regular visits, you can claim for the costs of having to do so. Similarly, if after the accident you had to pay to get to a hospital or medical facility, you can claim for this cost.

Compensation For Your Injury: general damages are paid for your actual injuries, either physical or psychological. This can cover both tangible and intangible effects that you have experienced.

Lost Income: an accident at work could cause you to lose income in a variety of ways, from reduced earnings from work to time off work to recover from your injuries. You can also claim for the loss of other benefits.

Whilst these are the basic components of a compensation claim, you may well be able to claim for things that do not fall into other categories.

Accident At Work Claim Amounts (Updated April 2021)

In the accident at work compensation calculator below, we look at accidents at work compensation examples to show what you could claim compensation for in terms of injuries, as well as how much compensation you could be awarded for these accidents or injuries.

Injury Severity Settlement bandInjury notes
Brain damageVery Severe £264,650 to £379,100In this bracket, there will be little, if any, evidence of meaningful response to environment, little or no language function, double incontinence and the need for full-time nursing care.
Brain damageModerately Severe£205,580 to £264,650Serious disability and a need for constant professional care.
Tetraplegia£304,630 to £379,100At the top end of the bracket will be cases where physical pain is present or where there is a significant effect on senses or ability to communicate. The award will also be based on factors such as age, the extent of any residual movement, the degree of independence.
Facial disfigurement- scarring Very Severe £27,940 to £91,350Higher settlements will be paid to the young where the cosmetic effect is very disfiguring and the psychological reaction severe.
Facial disfigurementLess Severe £16,860 to £45,440Where the disfigurement is still substantial and where there is a significant psychological reaction.
Facial disfigurement- scarring Significant £8,550 to £28,240Where the worst effects have been or will be reduced by plastic surgery leaving some cosmetic disability and where the psychological reaction is not great or has reduced
Back injurySevere £36,390 to £151,070To the top of this bracket there will be severe pain and disability with a combination of incomplete paralysis and significantly impaired bladder, bowel, and sexual function. To the bottom, there remain disabilities such as continuing severe pain and discomfort, impaired agility, impaired sexual function, depression, personality change, alcoholism, unemployability, and the risk of arthritis.
Back injuryModerate £11,730 to £36,390This bracket covers a wide range of injuries where the disability is less severe than in the bracket above.
Leg injuriesAmputation £91,950 to £264,650Above or below knee amputation of one or both legs
Leg injuriesMost Severe Injuries Short Of Amputation £90,320 to £127,530This bracket may include instances of extensive degloving of the leg, where there is gross shortening of the leg, or where fractures have not united and extensive bone grafting has been undertaken.
Leg injuriesVery Serious £51,460 to £85,600These kinds of injury lead to permanent problems with mobility and require extensive treatment.
Leg injuries Serious £36,790 to £51,460This bracket includes serious compound or comminuted fractures or injuries to joints or ligaments resulting in instability, prolonged treatment and a lengthy period of non-weight-bearing.

The figures in the table above are illustrative. Your final settlement will be based on your individual injuries and the circumstances surrounding them.

No Win No Fee Accidents In The Workplace When Not An Employee

One of the biggest distinguishing features of our services is that we can offer our claimants legal services on a no win, no fee basis. This means that we are able to help you make a compensation claim without having to worry about taking on extra financial costs or burdens. By using a no win, no fee agreements, you will not have to pay your legal costs unless and until you have been awarded a settlement. At this point, you will have the settlement to pay your costs from. If you are not awarded a settlement, you won’t lose anything and won’t have to meet any costs. This also gives our team an incentive to get you the best possible settlement as quickly as possible. A solicitor working on an hourly basis may not have this same incentive.

Why You Should Claim Compensation With Legal Expert

Why should you choose to make a workplace injury claim with Legal Expert? If you have been injured at work, what are your rights? and are you entitled to make a compensation claim are two questions we are regularly asked. Our specialist team will be able to guide you through the full extent of your legal rights, what you can claim compensation for and whether you can claim compensation if you have been dismissed after an accident at work. We will always approach your claim with the care and attention needed.

Whilst we understand that you can choose from multiple different claims management services or personal injury lawyers across the country, we pride ourselves on being able to provide you with the best solicitors, legal advice, and services available. We have helped numerous people across the country to make a make claim for injuries in the workplace, no matter whether or not they were an employee.

Our aim is to make your claim for an accident at work when not an employee as simple, cost-free, and hassle-free as possible. We can provide quick and expert legal advice without any upfront or hidden costs.

Speak To Our Team Today And Start Your Free Claim

At Legal Expert, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you make a successful compensation claim for injuries in the workplace. Whilst many people wonder, “do you have to be an employee to make a workplace injury claim”, we have shown that all workers have rights and, if injured, whether in the workplace or whilst carrying out their duties, are eligible to make a compensation claim.

Contact us today by calling on 0800 073 8804. You can also get in contact with our team by sending us an email to, by using the contact form on this page to request a callback, or by using our chat feature.

Useful Links

If after reading our guide you would like to find out more about how to make similar types of personal injury claims or find out more about if you have to be an employee to make a workplace injury claim, please follow the links to our other guides or trusted resources.

Employment Status And Workers Rights
Learn more about employment status and workers rights with this guide to workers employment status with this resource from the UK Government.

Advice On Accident At Work Claims From The Government
Find out further information on using a solicitor to make a compensation claim.

Claim Compensation From Another Employee
Do you need to make a workplace injury claim against another employee? If so, find out how to do so, as well as how much compensation you could be entitled to in our guide.

Accident At Work Claims
Learn more about general claims for compensation after an accident at work in our comprehensive guide.

Further guides:

Must you be an employee to claim for a workplace injury?- FAQs

Who is responsible for workplace injuries?

In the workplace, everyone is responsible for their own actions and safety to some extent. But your employer has a duty of care to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of you and your colleagues at work.

Do all workplace accidents need to be reported?

Not all injuries in the workplace need to be reported to RIDDOR, but any accidents resulting in death, over-seven-day incapacitation of a worker or specified injuries should be reported.

Can I choose not to make a compensation claim?

Yes. You’re not obliged to make a personal injury claim following an accident at work. However, you should consider the way your injuries have affected you and any financial losses you’ve incurred (like time off work or medical treatment) and think about whether the personal injury compensation you could be owed might help.

How do you handle a workplace injury?

If you’ve been injured at work, you should take photographs of the cause of the accident and report it in the accident book. You should also seek medical attention so that you have gotten the treatment you need, and your injuries are on record somewhere. After this, you may consider speaking to a law firm about the strength of your claim.

How long do I have to claim for a workplace injury?

The personal injury claims time limit for workplace accident claims is three years from the time of your accident.

Can I claim for an injury in work that I caused myself?

This depends. If the injury was caused by your own carelessness, then you won’t be able to claim. But if you’ve injured yourself because of faulty equipment, improper training or lack of PPE, then this may still be an example of workplace negligence.

Can I lose my job after a workplace injury?

After you’ve been injured in an accident at work that wasn’t your fault, you have a legal right to make a claim. If you lose your job because you’ve started a claim, this may be classed as unfair dismissal.

What can my workplace accident claim cover?

General damages in your workplace accident claim will cover the pain and suffering caused by your injuries. Special damages will cover financial losses you’ve incurred, like loss of earnings or travel expenses to hospital appointments.

Can I claim for a road traffic accident as a self-employed worker?

Yes. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance company would pay out for your injuries. But if you were injured because of your own employer’s negligence, such as problems with your vehicle, then you’ll be able to make a claim against them.

Thank you for reading our guide addressing the question, “must you be an employee to claim for a workplace injury?”.

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