There is a general misconception that somehow those who are self-employed are excluded from health and safety regulations and unable to claim compensation for injuries received as a consequence of negligence. This misconception seems to be based on the idea that an injury at work when self-employed effectively means that you would be claim against yourself. However, the reality is very different.
Self-Employed Workers Responsible For Their Own Safety
If someone who is self-employed receives an injury as a consequence of their own negligence then in reality they have no basis to claim compensation. However, you could have a claim if the injury received was as a consequence of negligence by another party such as:
- Provider of tools and equipment
- An individual or company contracting their services
There will likely be a basis for claiming compensation and it is worth taking the issue further.
Safe Working Environment
When self-employed and working on behalf of another company it is worth remembering that the company in question has the same legal obligations with regards to health and safety towards a contractor as they would towards full-time employees or members of the public. Therefore, the following issues would relate to self-employed contractors as much as they would to full-time employees:
- Initial training and ongoing training
- The provision of specialist safety equipment where applicable
- The provision of regular rest breaks
- A clean, tidy and safe working environment
- The erection of relevant warning signs
- Ongoing maintenance of company equipment and tools used by contractors
There will be occasions where contractors will bring their own tools but where any equipment or tools are provided by a third party company, the same health and safety regulations apply.
The umbrella act which covers the liability that a company has to employees, customers and contractors under their control is known as the Health and Safety at Work etc 1974 Act. There are also other additional regulations, which refer to specific types of work, but in general the obligation for a third party to ensure the health and well-being of employees, customers and contractors is often central to self-employed compensation claims.
Employment And Health And Safety Rights
While the laws governing those in full-time employment and those who are self-employed, but working predominantly for a small number of customers, are converging, there is no connection between employment rights and health and safety rights. Holiday pay, working hours, availability and an array of other issues may differ between those in full-time employment and those who are self-employed but health and safety rights are standard across the board.
If you are self-employed and you have received an injury, as a consequence of negligence, while working for a third party it is imperative that you gather as much evidence as possible and seek the appropriate medical attention. Witness statements, photographs and a timeline of events will all help to create a strong claim for self-employed compensation where there has been negligence on behalf of one or more third parties.
Where negligence is fairly obvious, in most cases the defendant would seek an out-of-court settlement to constrain their legal bill. In cases where negligence for a self-employed injury has been disputed, or there might be numerous negligent parties, these would likely end up in court.
Compensation In Self-Employed Injury Claims
Where a full-time employee will be covered by statutory sick pay in the event of an injury or illness which prevents them from working, it is not the same situation for those in self-employment. They are not covered by the statutory sick pay regulations as they do not have an employer but they can claim an array of different elements of compensation where negligence can be proven.
The two types of compensation self-employed workers could claim are known as general damages and special damages which we will cover below.
In brief terms, general damages are financial compensation for points such as:
- Psychological impact
- The level of pain and suffering
- How long the injuries take to heal
- Life changing injuries
There are guidelines issued by the Judicial College which are referred to by law firms and solicitors but there is also a degree of variation/discretion. This ensures that any compensation awards will reflect the nature of individual self-employed compensation claims after taking into account the severity of the injuries and impact on the person’s personal and business life.
The situation regarding special damages can be a little more complex when the person is self-employed. In brief special damages cover financial redress for:
- Loss of earnings
- Future loss of earnings
- Medical treatment expenses
- Future medical treatment expenses
- Vehicle adaptions
- Additional travelling costs such as taxi fares to hospital
- Adaptions required to the home
There isn’t any variation/discretion with special damages which are simply the reimbursement of costs paid out as a consequence of the injuries and future funding requirements.
Where an individual is self-employed, a prolonged period of time away from work could put their long-term income at risk with the potential for clients to look elsewhere in the short to medium term. This can have a significant impact upon the future loss of earnings figure especially when large customers are lost as a consequence of the injuries. Your personal injury solicitor will be able to advise you as to the level of special damages you should claim in relation to the above elements.
If you have been injured while self-employed and would like to know more about starting a claim for compensation contact us today for free advice.