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How to report an accident

View profile for Pauline Smith
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When should an accident or disease be reported to the Health and Safety Executive?

What happens if you’ve had an accident in the street, in a supermarket, or restaurant, or you’ve injured yourself at work?  What if you have gone for a pampering session and it’s gone horribly wrong? How do you ensure that your plight goes on record? 

There are many people who are involved in accidents, whether it be in a public place or at work, who wouldn't even think of reporting it to the council, their manager, or the shop staff. A lot of people would be so embarrassed by their accident that they would just want to leave without making a fuss. Why is it so important to report it? Well, after the initial embarrassment has died down, you notice that the cuts and grazes you had to your knee are actually causing you problems walking, the initial headache that you had is going on for a few weeks now, and the rash which your beauty consultant assured you would die down has actually left scarring? Maybe you’re thinking about making a claim.

From the point of view of a legal representative, establishing that an accident has actually happened is always going to be easier if the person who has unfortunately been injured has reported it at the time. Therefore here is a quick guide to help you:

Fallen outside?

Firstly, ring the council, or if not on council land (such as a car park etc), find the owner’s details from any parking notices and notify them.  Take photographs of whatever has caused you to fall, both close up and from a few feet away, so that the location can be identified. Use something in the photograph to give a measurement, such as a ruler, or a coin. Get a complaint number from the council, and take the full name of the person who you speak to. If you can, follow up your enquiry with an email.

Had an accident in a public place?

It is vital that you report your accident to a staff member, taking a note of their name, and asking for details of the incident to be put into an accident book. Ask to see what is being written about the circumstances of the accident, and if you are happy with the description, counter-sign the record or accident book. Take photographs of anything that has caused you to slip or to injure you, and ask the venue if there is any CCTV covering the area. If so, ask them to retain it, or ask if you can have a copy of the footage showing the incident. Again, if possible, follow up your initial reporting of the incident by email or correspondence, and ask for insurance details. Keep receipts if you were in a shop, supermarket, or restaurant, so that you can prove that you were on the premises at the time of the accident.

Accident at work?

Ensure that you tell your manager about the incident, and ask that it is properly recorded. Check if any of your colleagues witnessed the incident, and ask if they would be prepared to give statements to support you, if necessary. If your injuries last some time, keep your employers updated with regard to any treatment you might be having, and provide them with appropriate sick notes from your GP.

Beauty/hairdressing claims

If you feel that something has gone wrong with a procedure that you have had, it is imperative that you take photographs, at regular intervals, to demonstrate the progression of the injuries. If you notice the procedure going wrong at the time that you are having treatment, ask the consultant to stop, and ask that they record your complaint. If they do not have an accident book, ask for details of their insurers, and write to them formally, setting out your complaint, to get it on record.  Ask for the full name of the person who is carrying out the treatment, and their qualifications. If you notice any injury after you have left the salon, then contact them either by email or telephone as soon as possible thereafter.  Even telephone bill records can be helpful in these circumstances along with receipts for any treatments paid for.

Dog bite claims

These are trickier as you may be bitten or injured by a complete stranger’s dog. If you know the dog owner, ask for their insurance details.  Likewise, with someone who you do not know, wherever possible please ask for their full name, address and telephone details. Report the incident to the police, and keep a note of any police complaint number that you may receive.

There is much more to making a personal injury claim than this, and it must also be emphasised that if your injuries warrant medical attention you must seek this as soon as possible, and give a clear description of how you came by your injuries to your treating physician.  However, by ensuring that the incident is reported at the earliest stage, it will certainly assist your case, and is a good starting point for your legal representative.

If you have suffered a personal injury and would like to speak to a member of our expert team please call us on 01616 966 229.