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What You Can Do After a Life Changing Work Accident?
10 July 2019
If you have suffered a life-changing work accident you may be left feeling scared and anxious about your future. You’ll likely be asking yourself – how will I provide for my family? What care and support will I need? Does my home need to be adapted? Will my employer allow me to return to work? All of which can add to the stress of recovering from your injuries and adapting to your new way of life.
TRUE Solicitors uncover what responsibilities your employer has to make any reasonable adjustments necessary to help you return to work, what help and care is available to you, and what your options are if your injuries mean that you can no longer work again.
Responsibilities of your employer after a work accident
The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that employers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to help those with disabilities do their job as well as someone without a disability. Therefore if you have been left with permanent injuries as a consequence of your workplace accident, your employer should accommodate your return to work by:
• Providing you with extra equipment and support.
• Changing company policy.
• Adapting your workstation layout.
The adjustments that you require must be deemed ‘reasonable’ for your employer to undertake. Reasonable adjustments include:
• Offering a phased return to work for employees who have become disabled, by allowing part-time working or flexible hours.
• Changing equipment to help employees with disabilities to work as effectively as someone without a disability. For example providing ergonomic keyboards and adjustable desks to employees with back injuries and upper limb disorders.
• Making physical changes to the workplace such as installing a ramp for a wheelchair user.
You must be able to prove that your injuries have left you substantially disadvantaged, compared to someone without a disability, before your employer has to legally make any adjustments. You can check if you are substantially disadvantaged if:
• A provision, criterion or practice at work – such as the hours that you have to work, mean that you can no longer adhere to this policy. For example if your injuries mean that you can no longer work full time hours due to the pain you are in, this would mean that you’re substantially disadvantaged.
• A physical feature at work – such as the stairs to your workplace. For example if your injuries mean that you now have to use a wheelchair to aid your mobility and your workplace doesn’t have a ramp or lift, you would classify as being substantially disadvantaged.
• You don’t have access to auxiliary aids to help you to do your job effectively. For example if your injuries have left you blind or partially sighted, and you don’t have access to specialist computer software, this would leave you substantially disadvantaged in your job role.
Whilst your employer is legally required to take reasonable steps to avoid you being disadvantaged at work, there is no exact definition of what is ‘reasonable’. For example what may be reasonable to a large national corporation may be not be to a small family run business.
Care and support needs after a life changing work accident
After a life changing work accident you may need ongoing care and support. Rehabilitation is key to aid in your recovery and should be started as soon as possible after the accident to limit the impact of your injuries.
You may need physical and emotional support, such as physiotherapy and/or counselling to help you to rebuild your life. Your local NHS trust and social services department can provide you with an occupational therapist, who will work with you to assess the day to day tasks that you now find difficult, and come up with solutions. Should you be making a claim against your employer for their negligence in causing your accident, you may be able to employ the services of a private OT, in order to speed up the progress of the case.
There are also a number of charitable organisations who can provide you with care and support during your recovery such as, the Red Cross who can provide single to short term loans for wheelchairs. The Disabled Living Foundation also provides impartial advice and information about independent living. If you have been affected by a head or brain injury at work the charities Headway and the Brain Injury Group provide help and support. Organisations such as Remploy can provide you with a support plan and mental health support to help you to return to work.
Aside from your own care and support needs there are also several organisations, such as The Respite Association, who can help with respite care for your primary caregiver.
Adapting your home and vehicle
You may need to make adaptions to your home or vehicle after an accident to aid your mobility and accessibility to continue to complete everyday tasks. The changes may include either minor or major adaptations such as:
• Minor adaptations: including fitting hand rails around the home, and changing taps to lever taps in the kitchen.
• Major adaptations: Including widening doorways, fitting a downstairs accessible bathroom, fitting a stair lift and lowering worktops in the kitchen.
If your injuries mean that you can no longer drive a car in the conventional way, there are a number of vehicle adaptions that can be implemented to help you. Hand controls, driving aids, left foot accelerators and steering aids can be installed in your vehicle to help you to drive.
You can apply for a disabled facilities grant from your local authority, to help you with the financial costs of adapting your home to aid your independent living. There are also a number of not-for-profit Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs) who can help those live their own privately owned, or rental property, with arranging funding and repairs to help adapt your home.
Access to financial support after an accident at work is one of the biggest concerns after recovering from your injuries. The government provide Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if your injuries leave you unable to work. You may also be eligible to claim for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and your contract of employment might also state that you are entitled to extra sick pay through their own policy.
You can also decide to make a claim for compensation to aid with your ongoing and future financial and support needs. TRUE Solicitors are experienced in obtaining compensation for clients who have been injured in an accident at work. Our expert personal injury solicitors will fight to recoup your loss of earnings, medical expenses and care costs to get your life back on track.
If you’ve had an accident in the last 3 years speak to one of our work accident solicitors today to discuss the merits of your claim.