A rejected workers compensation claim can place you under significant financial pressure at a time when you are already coping with injuries or illness.
Claimants need impartial agencies to which they can turn if they need to dispute a decision. As such, news that the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) may be abolished has been met with disappointment by various industry groups.
The move was recently suggested in a NSW government discussion paper that outlined recommendations for simplifying the state's dispute resolution process.
One suggestion involved bringing all dispute resolution services under one organisation's purview, with the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) potentially set to absorb WIRO's functions.
We recently provided a summary of how the dispute resolution system currently works in NSW. Please click here for more information.
Would abolishing WIRO harm claimants?
The NSW Law Society and Unions NSW have slammed any proposal to faze out WIRO, claiming the organisation is one of the few independent bodies still involved in workers compensation dispute resolution.
WIRO's latest annual report revealed the organisation has handled 22,000 complaints and inquiries since its inception in 2012. More than 60,000 people have received funding for legal advice through the body.
"Shutting it down would remove one of the few independent avenues of appeal open to people who are highly distressed and often suffering acute anxiety. The government should immediately rule this out," Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Emma Maiden told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Adding greater powers to the SIRA is a further step in the wrong direction and would magnify the potential for conflicts of interest within the system."
Do I have other options with workers compensation disputes?
The NSW government has accepted industry submissions in response to the discussion paper, which are currently under review. Only time will tell whether WIRO's future is in jeopardy.
However, workers compensation claimants still have options even if the organisation is abolished. For example, professional legal advice is available through experienced personal injury specialists at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.
We offer a free first consultation and a no-win, no-fee service to claimants who have been turned down for workers compensation in NSW. Our lawyers have dealt with thousands of cases and can help you navigate the complexities of the workers compensation framework.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you access workers compensation for injuries and illnesses that you have suffered during the course of your employment.