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Work-related injury disability: How and when to pursue a workers’ compensation claim

Have you suffered an injury or illness at work that caused short-term disability or permanent impairment? You may have grounds for a workers’ compensation claim. The experienced work injury lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners can provide legal advice on your rights and responsibilities when pursuing such a claim, and help you maximise compensation for your work-related injury.

What are my rights if I get injured at work?

If you’re injured because of your work, you have the right to make a workers’ compensation claim. This claim would help to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.

If you’re an independent contractor instead of an employee, you will generally not be able to make a workers’ compensation claim, but sub-contractors may be qualified to claim for a workplace injury. This can be confirmed by WorkCover.

You have the right to insist on lodging a workers compensation claim, and your employer cannot force you to take paid or unpaid leave instead. You also have the right to engage a lawyer before signing any documents regarding your injury or any potential claim. You also have the right to:

Visit your own doctor for treatment

Don’t be pressured by your employer into seeing “their” doctor for treatment, although you may have to see them for an evaluation. Regardless, the first visit after your injury should be with a doctor you trust. You do NOT have to permit your employer or an employer representative to go with you to your doctor visit.

Time off to recover from your injury

You’re entitled to time off in accordance with the WorkCover certificate provided by your doctor.

Have your Union delegate or OHS Rep present for employer discussions

This applies to both discussions about your injury itself and to talks about returning to work.

Rehabilitation services and retraining

If you have a disability that prevents you from returning to your original tasks, these services can help you get back to a job you can do safely and productively.

Copies of most reports related to your WorkCover claim

This allows you to check that the information about you is accurate.

What are my responsibilities if I get injured at work?

Most workers’ compensation claims must be made within six months of the date that the injury occurred, but the limit can be extended for up to three years if certain circumstances are met, such as an injury being unknown at the time, but manifesting in a disability later. We can help you with filing a workers’ compensation claim form to get the ball rolling before the time limit runs out.

What qualifies as a work-related injury?

Work-related injuries can be physical, mental and/or emotional. The most common injuries in order of commonality include:

  • Traumatic joint, ligament, muscle or tendon injury (includes back injuries)
  • Lacerations, wounds, internal organ damage or amputations
  • Diseases of connective tissue or the musculoskeletal system
  • Bone fractures
  • Surface or deep thickness burns
  • Intracranial injuries

What injuries qualify for disability?

A threshold of at least 10% whole person impairment is required to qualify for a lump sum compensation for physical injury. A 15% whole person impairment is required for psychological injury. This impairment could be from a back injury, the loss of a hand or an eye, or another type of work-related injury.

When it comes to making a claim for work-related disability, the level of whole person impairment is the focus rather than the type of injury. The Workers’ Compensation Act allows injured workers to claim a lump sum amount of compensation for their impairment in addition to temporary disability benefits.

If you obtain a lump sum payment for a permanent impairment, you can continue to receive your entitled payments of weekly compensation and payments of medical expenses in accordance with the Act. You may also qualify for other permanent disability benefits if your injuries are judged to have caused a permanent total disability.

You may also be entitled to pursue a claim for negligence against your employer in the form of a Work Injury Damages claim if you have a whole person impairment of 15% or greater. Separate total and permanent disability claims under a superannuation or insurance policy can also add to your compensation in addition to your workers’ compensation payments.

What is the compensation process for work-related injuries?

When you file your workers’ compensation claim, you’ll be examined by medical practitioners (your company may be able to require you to be evaluated by their choice of doctor, but you can also be evaluated by your own, and you get to choose who actually treats you.)

You should file your claim as soon as possible for WorkCover, but refrain from finalizing a claim for disability until your doctor believes you have reached the point where your injury is stable, and improvement or degradation of your condition are both unlikely.

At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we will work with you to navigate the process of your workers’ compensation claim and help guide you in any other cases you may be able to file for compensation.

How much can I be compensated for a work-related injury?

Of course, the highest compensation payouts are for permanent impairment, and these vary based on when the accident occured. The largest possible payout is well over half a million dollars, and that isn’t counting additional claims and super payouts. You may also qualify for a 5% additional payment if you have a permanent back impairment.

Can I receive compensation for pain and suffering?

Yes, you may also claim for a lump sum payment for pain and suffering. While this can be more difficult to prove for work-related injury cases, certain categories of professions are automatically eligible for pain and suffering claims, with a maximum of $50,000 compensation.

These professions include jobs where psychological trauma and significant physical injury can occur and include:

  • Paramedics
  • Police officers
  • Fire fighters
  • Volunteer bush fire fighters
  • Emergency rescue services volunteers

The minimum threshold of 10% permanent physical impairment (15% for psychological injuries) must be met to receive this compensation.

If you require assistance with pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, or have already been rejected and feel the decision was unfair, you should contact Gerard Malouf & Partners. We operate on a no-win, no-fee structure, and have nearly three decades of experience operating within the workers’ compensation space. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Gerard Malouf

Principal
© 2021 
Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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