New legislation forces personal injury claimants to prove negligence
Proposed legislation changes in the recent Enterprise Bill, which MPs hope will come into force later this year, will almost certainly make it more difficult for employees to successfully claim against negligent employers should they sustain personal injuries in their workplace.
Currently the Health and Safety Act states:
“Breach of duty imposed by health and safety regulations shall, so far as it causes damage, be actionable except in so far as the regulations provide otherwise.”
This basically means that if an employer breaches the legislation and an employee suffers as a result, the employee would likely succeed in any claim made against the employer. This is because an employee currently does not need to prove how a breach of legislation occurred.
The new legislation proposed would shift the power into employer’s hands because employees that have suffered in work would no longer have a given right to compensation. The employee will now have to prove how the negligence occurred, which could be difficult as employees will need to gather and provide evidence of negligence, which may be difficult to obtain. In cases where the employee sadly died as a result of their injuries, proving negligence may become impossible.
Genuine personal injury claimants to suffer again
This new legislation could have far reaching consequences and is seen by many as another aspect of David Cameron’s campaign against Britain’s “compensation culture.” Two weeks ago we talked about the rise in the small claims limit which could see genuine claimants fail to undertake claims, and this combined with the new legislation could see many injured workers avoid making legitimate claims due to the costs of covering a case and the level of proof required to be successful.
Karl Tonks former President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said on the new legislation: “It will make bringing some valid claims for compensation extremely difficult. Many people are likely to shy away from bringing a claim altogether.
Accidents at work likely to increase
Many MPs who favour this new legislation see it as better way of reducing the burden of health and safety on businesses and see it as way to help Britain compete with other European economies and the US. Unfortunately what the legislation is likely to do is reduce a lot of companies’ health and safety standards, and see a return to corner cutting such as failing to maintain equipment, leading to an increase in accidents in the workplace. This is something that we cannot allow to happen, especially when people’s livelihood and more worryingly their lives are at stake!
Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough said: “There is a risk of a return to the safety standards of Victorian England. This amendment overturns laws that have been around since the Boer War. Work-related deaths and major injuries in the UK have been declining in recent years. My prediction is that that trend will be reversed.”
Speak with a professional lawyer today
Although the new legislation is worrying for employees, we understand that accidents at work do happen and if you’re not responsible you should be entitled to compensation. We will push on even after this new legislation becomes law and we will continue to deliver expert personal injury advice.
If you’d like more information about a possible claim you can contact us on 01495 303124 or 079820 721285 for out of office hours or fill out our claim form and someone will get back to you within 24 hours. Alternatively contact us at our local office in Ebbw Vale for personal injury advice from one of our highly trained solicitors.