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Workers Compensation Claims

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Workers Compensation Claims

No one goes to work planning to get injured. However, when you are injured at work your life can be thrown into chaos. Work injuries can cause pain and suffering. They may impact your ability to work. You may require treatment to recover. Your future can be uncertain. The Gold Coast personal injury lawyers at Ramsden can give you advice to ensure that you receive the support you are entitled to under Queensland’s workers compensation regime.

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Why should I act fast?

If you are injured at work, then you may be entitled to a “statutory” workers compensation claim. You do not need to show that your employer was at fault or negligent to access statutory workers compensation benefits. You just need to show that:

  • You are a worker
  • You had an injury, disease, aggravation of an injury or disease, or industrial hearing loss
  • Your employment was a significant contributing factor to the injury.

You can also claim if you were injured on your way to work, coming home from work or on a break (such as a lunch break).
WorkCover Qld (who insures Queensland employers) is obliged to pay:

  • weekly benefits to replace your lost income whilst injured; and
  • medical treatment and rehabilitation to help you recover.

An application for workers compensation must be lodged within 6 months of seeing your doctor about the work injury. If you delay lodging the Application, then you risk WorkCover rejecting your application.

Also, the quicker you lodge the claim, the earlier you can get the treatment and rehabilitation you need to get your life back on track. WorkCover is obliged to fund reasonable rehabilitation to help you recover from your injuries. This could include (but is not limited to) hospital treatment as a private patient, physiotherapy, medication, counselling, supports and assistance.

Great, I have the statutory benefits, but what next?

The statutory workers compensation benefits won’t last forever. WorkCover is only required to provide you with these benefits until a doctor indicates that you are “stable and stationary”. This means that no other treatment is going to improve your injury. In short, this is when your recovery plateaus.

At that point WorkCover will tell you that they are going to close your file.

They may not tell you that you have the right to be assessed for permanent impairment (which comes with a lump sum offer).

Once WorkCover indicates that they will close your file, it is very important that you get up to date legal advice. You should be assessed for permanent impairment and then WorkCover will give you a Notice of Assessment with a lump sum offer.

At this point, you have a very important decision to make. You need to decide whether to bring a common law claim for damages or accept the lump sum offer. Usually, you cannot take the lump sum offer and proceed to claim damages for negligence.

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Common law claims for damages for negligence

If your employer was negligent, and breached its duty of care to you, then you may have an entitlement to damages.

An employer can be negligent if that failed to take the appropriate level of care for your safety. Examples of when employers are negligent can include failing to provide training, not providing safety equipment, failing to warn you of danger, failing to perform risk assessments or requiring you perform your work in an unsafe manner.

If you succeed in showing that the employer is at fault, then you can recover damages including 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.

In many cases, these common law damages will be larger than the lump sum offer that you receive when your statutory benefits claim closes.

It is important to get legal advice to allow you to make an informed decision on whether to seek common law damages or take the lump sum.

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My employer did not cause my injury. What are my options?

If the employer is unlikely to be found negligent, then you may be able to take the lump sum offer that accompanies the Notice of Assessment. However, you should not decide about the lump sum offer without first getting legal advice.
If someone else or another company were negligent and caused your work accident, then you may be able to bring a public liability claim. Examples of public liability claims against third parties can include:

  • There was a manufacturing defect in the tool or equipment you were using;
  • The maintenance or repairs of the premises, plant or equipment were performed negligently;
  • The injury occurred on someone else’s unsafe premises;
  • You were directed to perform your work by someone other than your employer and the direction was unsafe;
  • A worker from another company did something that caused your injury.

For more information on public liability claims, please click here.

You may also have insurance benefits attached to your superannuation accounts, such as salary continuance or income protection or Total Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance policies. For more information on insurance and superannuation claims, please click here.

We can help you investigate whether you can make these claims.

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What other deadlines do I need to know about?

There are important deadlines that apply to common law claims for damages. Generally speaking, a compliant Notice of Claim must be lodged with your employer and WorkCover within 3 years of injury.

There are some limited circumstances where this deadline can be extended. But it is very important to get legal advice before this 3-year limitation period ends.

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