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Workplace Injuries and Compensation Claims

If you are injured at work or suffer a work related injury, you are legally entitled to make a workers’ compensation claim or WorkCover claim, which covers injuries and accidents caused by the negligence of an employer or co-worker or any other third parties that you deal with at work.

In Queensland, it is mandatory for all employers to take out Workers Compensation insurance to cover all staff.  This means that in the event of a work related injury to an employee, it is the workers compensation insurance that pays any applicable compensation if the employer is found to be at fault.

WorkCover Compensation – who does it apply to?

The WorkCover workers compensation scheme covers all injured casual and permanent employees, regardless of whether they are full time or part time employees.

If you are self-employed or are referred to as a sub-contractor, you may also be covered by WorkCover if most of your work is for one organisation or you are treated by the organisation in a similar way to an employee.

Workplace injuries – what type can be claimed for?

Workplace injuries can range from serious illness, injury or damage (including amputations, fractures and brain injuries) through to strains and sprains (including repetitive strain injury or RSI). It also covers psychiatric injuries that may arise from witnessing a traumatic event at work as well as things like bullying and harassment.

Work injuries that are covered by WorkCover include:

  • injuries that occurred at or as a result of work and during work hours (e.g. while on a lunch break)
  • diseases caused by work or pre-existing conditions that have been made worse by work
  • injuries suffered while travelling as part of work (not usually to and from work) or while receiving medical treatment for a separate work injury

Also, you are entitled to lodge a Statutory Claim for “journey claims.” i.e., travelling to and from work, provided you fall within the definitions of s35 of the Act.

Workplace Physical Claim

Examples of workplace physical claims:

  • repetitive strain
  • ergonomic related injuries
  • industrial accidents
  • faulty equipment
  • heavy lifting
  • fatalities at work

Permanent Impairment

WorkCover will request an independent doctor to provide a permanent impairment assessment before closing your case. This assessment can provide you with a ‘Notice of Assessment’. This notice will enclose a break down in percentage form your Work related permanent impairment and there may be a ‘lump sum offer’ included with this. Once you have received a Notice of Assessment you MUST NOT SIGN this document. You need to consult a specialist personal injury lawyer about proceeding with a Common Law Claim.

A worker is at risk of losing their rights to common law damages if they sign the Notice of Assessment and have an impairment assessment of less than 20%.   A worker won’t sign away any common law rights if they cannot prove negligence  on the part of the employer.

Common law claims

A common law claim is the most important part of the claims process after being injured. This is why we say DO NOT SIGN anything before discussing your rights and options with our specialist personal injury lawyers. When WorkCover makes a lump sum offer, this offer is binding and does not take into consideration any other expenses that you will incur due to your workplace injury. A common law claim looks at other damages factors such as, past and future economic loss, out of pocket expenses, future medical expenses and of course pain and suffering. When you factor all these extras in, it is likely the lump sum offer provided by WorkCover will not be adequate for you and your family in the coming years. Again to pursue this claim strict limitation periods apply.

What to do if you suffer a workplace injury

  1. Report your workplace injury to your employers at the time of the injury.
  2. Get your injury assessed, treated and documented by a doctor as soon as you can after the accident. Your GP will need to provide a medical assessment of your ability or inability to return to work. Lost income is a potential component of your compensation claim.   Your doctor will need to provide you with a ‘Workers Compensation Medical Certificate’ before you can lodge the Application for Compensation claim form.
  3. Always get expert legal advice from our compensation lawyers before accepting any offer from WorkCover, or before signing any documentation from your employer or your employer’s insurance company (including WorkCover’s Notice of Assessment) as the lump sum compensation offered by WorkCover may not adequately compensate you for the long term consequences that arise from your injuries.
  4. If WorkCover reject your claim, then contact us understand further your options from here.
  5. Once WorkCover find a worker ‘Stable and Stationary’ (a condition is stable and stationary when the condition is not likely to improve with further medical or surgical) they will look at closing your claim. At this point, they are no longer required to continue paying benefits. It is important to seek legal advice before this stage so you understand where to go from here.

In the case that a workplace injury is more severe or permanent, it is recommended that you speak as soon as you can to an accredited specialist personal injury lawyer.  There are strict time limitations that apply to recover compensation.

What compensation can I expect for a workers compensation claim?

There are a number of different factors that can affect the compensation you may be entitled to.  We will work on your behalf to get the best outcome for your situation.

How long will it take to finalise my workers compensation claim?

On average it takes 14 months for a workplace injury claim to settle. The actual time taken for a negotiated settlement to be reached will depend on the facts and complexity of your case. Claims that go to the courts will take longer and be subject to the schedule of the courts.

More information

Clewett Lawyers can provide you with advice if:

  • You are unsure if you can claim compensation for a work injury
  • You have received an offer of lump sum compensation and you are not sure whether to accept it
  • Your workers compensation is rejected or stopped

For all personal injury claims, our personal injury lawyers offer a free initial consultation to review your case and give you the opportunity to explore your legal options.  Should we agree to proceed, we provide injury compensation services on a no-win no-fee basis.

Contact us on PH:  07 4639 0333 for more information, or to arrange a free consultation about your compensation claim.

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