Workers’ compensation claims
Work injuries can be very abrupt and unexpected. They can cause pain and suffering which may impact your ability to work and live your life to its fullest. Often specialised treatment is required to recover from work injuries. Ultimately, work injuries may leave you feeling uncertain about your future. If you have been injured at work, it is important that you receive the support you are entitled to under Queensland’s workers’ compensation scheme. Skilled personal injury lawyers at Fraser Lawyers are ready and waiting to guide you through your workers’ compensation claim and can offer expert advice that will help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Do I need to act fast?
An application for workers’ compensation must be lodged within 6 months of seeing your doctor about said injury. If you delay lodging the application, you risk WorkCover rejecting your application.
This means the faster you act and lodge the claim, the sooner you can get the treatment and rehabilitation you need to help restore your quality of life. WorkCover is obliged to fund reasonable rehabilitation to help you recover from your injuries. This may include (but is not limited to) hospital treatment as a private patient, physiotherapy, medication, counselling and other varying health related support and assistance.
For those who have been injured at work—you may be entitled to a “statutory” workers’ compensation claim. To pursue this type of claim you do not need to prove your employer was at fault or negligent in your matter. What you will need to show however, is very simple:
- that you are a worker;
- that you had an injury, disease, aggravation of an injury and/or disease, or industrial
- that your employment was a significant contributing factor to your injury.
If you were traveling to or from work or while on any breaks associated with work, you can make a claim to WorkCover QLD—this is the body who insures QLD employers. They may be obliged to pay:
- weekly benefits to replace your lost income whilst injured;
- medical treatment and rehabilitation to help you recover.
What other important deadlines should I be aware of?
There are strict deadlines that apply to common law claims for damages. A Compliant Notice of Claim must be lodged with your employer and WorkCover within 3 years of your injury. There are, however, some limited circumstances where this deadline may be extended. Regardless, it is still very important to get legal advice before this 3 year limitation period ends
So, I’ve received the statutory benefits, what’s next?
The statutory workers’ compensation benefits are temporary as WorkCover is only required to provide such benefits until a doctor indicates that you are “stable and stationary”. This means that no other treatment is going to improve your injury. Ultimately, this is when your recovery plateaus and you may require additional support.
Often at this stage WorkCover will advise you that they are going to close your file. WorkCover often won’t disclose to you that you have the right to be assessed for permanent impairment (which comes with a lump sum offer).
Once WorkCover advises that they are going to close your file, it is extremely important that you get specialised and current legal advice regarding your matter. You should take the steps to be assessed for permanent impairment and then WorkCover will give you a Notice of Assessment with a lump sum offer. We can guide you through this process.
You will then be faced with a very important decision regarding your matter. You must decide whether to bring a common law claim for damages or accept the lump sum offer from WorkCover. In most instances, you cannot take the lump sum offer and then proceed to claim damages for negligence.
For Negligence—common law claims for damages.
If your employer was negligent in your matter and breached its duty of care to you—you may be entitled to damages.
An employer can be deemed negligent if they fail to take the appropriate level of care to ensure your safety. Examples of when employers are negligent can include (but are not limited to) failing to provide adequate training, failing to provide adequate safety equipment, failing to warn you of danger, failing to perform adequate risk assessments or requiring you to perform your work in an unsafe manner.
If you prove that your employer is at fault, you can then recover damages. In this case, financial compensation can be given to you which may include amounts to compensate you for pain and suffering, past economic loss, loss of future earning capacity, superannuation on your economic loss, out of pocket expenses incurred, future expenses to manage the impact of the injury and any tax paid on your workers’ compensation payments.
It’s important to note that often these common law damages will equate to a larger financial sum than the lump sum offered to you post your WorkCover assessment when your statutory benefits claim closes. Get expert legal advice so you can make an informed decision on whether to pursue common law damages or accept the lump sum payment from WorkCover. It is vital for your future and your recovery/rehabilitation that you receive what you’re entitled to following your work injury.
If my employer did not cause my work injury—do I still have options?
If it is unlikely that your employer will be found negligent, you may be able to take the lump sum offer which accompanies the Notice of Assessment. It’s important to note that you should not decide whether to take the lump sum offer without seeking legal advice first.
If another company or individual were negligent which caused your work accident—you may be able to bring a public liability claim against this third party. Examples of public liability claims against third parties may include:
- a manufacturing defect in the tool or equipment you were using caused your accident;
- the maintenance or repairs of the premises, plant or equipment were performed negligently which resulted in your work injury;
- your injury occurred on someone else’s unsafe premises;
- you were given unsafe directions to perform work by someone other than your direct supervisor and this direction was unsafe resulting in injury;
- a worker from another company acted in a manner that caused your injury.
You may also have insurance benefits attached to your existing superannuation accounts, this may include salary continuance, income protection or Total Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance policies.
Enquire today and let our skilled team help you investigate whether you can make any of the aforementioned claims in regard to your specific circumstance.