A number of changes have been made to workers' compensation laws in New South Wales, which could see more injured employees making personal disability claims in future.
According to WorkCover New South Wales, the changes are focused on three key areas: helping injured employees to return to work, improving the amount of and access to monetary support given to injured employees, and ensuring the workers' compensation scheme is financially stable.
One of the major differences under the new scheme is that an employee's insurer will now be in charge of deciding whether they are fit to return to work or not. This decision is based on a "work capacity assessment", which involves a review of the employee's "medical, functional and vocational status".
If the insurer finds an employee has the capacity to undertake work in any shape or form, the employee is obligated to do so – otherwise, WorkCover can suspend or stop their weekly payments.
WorkCover claims that "evidence shows … getting back to work early is an important part of your recovery. In most cases, you do not need to be 100 per cent recovered to return to work."
However, the supposedly "new-and-improved" workers' compensation scheme is proving to be problematic. In fact, an article published by the Sydney Morning Herald reveals that many feel the changes have "skewed" the scheme in favour of insurers and employers, leaving employees to seek other means of receiving injury compensation.
A recent case of this, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, involved an employee whose leg was crushed by a piece of machinery in his workplace. As a result, the leg had to be amputated. When the employee approached his insurer about getting a prosthetic limb – a medical treatment sanctioned by his doctor – the insurer refused.
The situation was eventually remedied, thanks to the newly launched WorkCover Independent Review Office, but this just goes to show that sometimes making TPD claims is the only way to get the injury compensation you need and deserve.
What can I do if I'm treated unfairly by an insurer?
If you think you should be entitled to more than your insurer is willing to give, get in contact with the WorkCover Independent Review Office. This organisation will look at the facts and circumstances of your case and may be able to help you resolve your complaint.
You may also want to get in touch with compensation lawyers in Sydney to discuss whether you have grounds for a case.