If you’ve been injured at work, or because of your work, you may be eligible to claim benefits from WorkCover Authority (in each State), or your employer if they are self-insured.
An injury is ‘a personal injury arising out of, or in the course of, employment if the employment is a significant contributing factor to the injury.’
Injuries can happen at work, travelling to and from work or while on a break from work. Injuries can also take place if you are travelling for work, or visiting other workplaces or sites for the purposes of your job.
Examples of different types of injuries covered:
- physical injuries—such as lacerations, fractures, burns, industrial deafness
- psychiatric or psychological disorders — such as anxiety or depression
- diseases—such as asbestosis or Q-fever
- aggravation of a pre-existing condition
- death from an injury or disease.
WorkCover or the self-insurer will cover:
- Reasonable and necessary medical and rehabilitation costs as approved by a treating medical practitioner or registered provider (such as physiotherapist or psychologist). This will include any scans, specialist costs, blood tests and surgeries (if approved).
- Medicines and medical supplies essential to your recovery (such as prescribed medications or bandages).
- Equipment needed for your recovery (such as crutches or a wheelchair).
- Costs for travel more than 20kms each way (when there is not a registered provider closer).
WorkCover or the self-insurer will not cover:
- Unreasonable and unnecessary medical and rehabilitation costs
- Treatment with some providers such as massage therapy, naturopaths, or relaxation therapists
- Wages if you are deemed fit for work, or fit for suitable duties, where you decide not to participate
- Medication or treatment for non-work related injuries.
What does your employer need to do?
An employer must not, within 12 months of a Worker sustaining an injury, dismiss the Worker “solely or mainly because the worker is not fit for employment in a position because of the injury”.
If you are deemed unfit for work, the employer must pay your first week of wages. If you are off work for more than a week, WorkCover will discuss with you about ongoing wage payments.
Where possible, the Employer should provide safe and meaningful suitable duties within the restrictions provided by your treating medical practitioner. If you are cleared for suitable duties, generally your employer will pay your hourly rate for hours worked and WorkCover will you pay a top up for hours not worked.
Am I entitled to compensation for my injuries?
It should be noted that there are two stages to a workers’ compensation claim:
- Statutory Compensation Benefits phase; and
- Common Law Damages phase
Stage one, the statutory phase, is a no fault system. This means that every worker injured during the course of their employment can bring a statutory compensation benefits claim whether somebody is at fault (or negligent) for the injuries or not.
This will enable you to have the majority of your wages, medical treatment and rehabilitation expenses covered by WorkCover Queensland or your employer’s self-insurer. The statutory compensation benefits phase (and the type and level of benefits you receive) most commonly come to an end when you return to work, cease to have the injury or no longer require any medical treatment.
In the event that you have sustained a permanent impairment that is stable and stationary (That is, not likely to improve or worsen with or without treatment), WorkCover Queensland may offer you some lump sum compensation for each permanent injury you have sustained, in what is known as a permanent impairment assessment. The Permanent Impairment Assessment will most commonly be undertaken by an appropriately qualified medical practitioner, a specialist and, in certain circumstances, by a panel of three specialists. If the Permanent Impairment Assessment you receive is less than 20%, you will need to elect to either:
- Accept the offer. This option will, in most circumstances, prevent you from pursuing a Common Law Damages claim in the future.
- Reject the offer and pursue a Common Law Damages Claim.
If you receive a Permanent Impairment Assessment higher that 20%, you may be able to both accept the Statutory Benefit offer made to you by WorkCover and pursue a Common Law Damages Claim (assuming you can establish negligence against your employer or their representatives).
You should not accept this offer until you have sought legal advice, as accepting this offer may prevent you from bringing a Common Law claim.
Stage two, is the Common Law Damages phase. This phase involves you proving that your injuries occurred because of the employer or someone under the control of the employer’s negligence. An employer owes to its employees a Duty of Care. Examples of an employer’s breach of their duties to their employees often include (as examples):
- a lack of training of staff;
- a lack of inspections of worksites;
- inadequate equipment being supplied; and
- inadequate supervision.
It is often difficult for an untrained person to identify an employer’s potential breaches of their duties, hence why we recommend consulting a legal expert.
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