Can I claim workers compensation for past injuries?

Published 14 Jun 2018

At best, work-related injuries are a nuisance that can hinder your ability to do your job. In a worst-case scenario, serious accidents or illnesses can cause permanent damage or even kill an employee.

But what happens when a workplace injury deteriorates over time? Or doesn't become apparent until many years after you've stopped working? Can you still claim compensation?

Unfortunately, these questions don't have simple answers. The success of your claim is likely to depend on the type of injury sustained, whether or not you've already received compensation and the kinds of medical costs that you're trying to recoup.

Understanding workers compensation legislation

The NSW Workers Compensation Scheme underwent significant reforms in 2012, stopping weekly benefits for injured employees after two to five years, depending on their level of impairment.

However, the Workers Compensation Act 1987 provides a caveat for those who suffer injuries and diseases that develop gradually. For example, repetitive strain injuries can occur over a prolonged period of time while using a pneumatic drill. In some cases, this could lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) - a form of Raynaud's phenomenon.

Section 15 of the Act states compensation should be payable in these circumstances by the last employer that may have aggravated, accelerated, exacerbated or deteriorated the injury.

Establishing which organisation is liable and calculating the compensation they owe is a complex procedure, so please contact an expert personal injury lawyer in NSW to ensure you receive the correct payout.

Landmark case could impact long-term claims

A recent case that went before the Workers Compensation Commission (WCC) may have changed the way benefits are awarded for some one-off medical surgeries.

Sam Baldacchino injured his knee while working for Pacific National in 1999. The injury got worse over time and he required a full knee replacement once he had retired in 2017.

The insurer initially rejected the payout, stating that it fell outside the five-year time period for this type of claim. But the WCC ruled that a knee replacement could be considered an 'artificial aid' and is therefore exempt from time limits.

This was a landmark decision and is likely to have an impact on many other operations and treatments that have traditionally been rejected following the 2012 changes to the workers compensation scheme.

Workers compensation claims in NSW

Have you suffered a workplace injury or disease that has gradually deteriorated over time?

You may be entitled to compensation or support with your medical bills, so please get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today to find out more.