If you are in any doubt about your right to claim workers compensation or work damages please contact us without obligation as we are No Win No Fee lawyers.
There are two types of claim for injuries at work – workers compensation and work damages. They are not the same and different considerations apply to each claim. The claims are different by they are paid by the same insurance company – usually WorkCover QLD.
If you are injured at work, during breaks or travelling to and from work, you are entitled to claim workers compensation. If injured travelling to and from work, in a motor accident for instance, in addition to workers compensation, you may have an overlapping damages claim arising out of the motor accident.
You may also claim workers compensation if you are injured whilst seeking medical treatment for a work injury.
You might also be entitled to claim workers compensation if you are injured during a period away from home, for example, whilst staying overnight as a requirement of work. You should always ask if you are unsure about your right to claim workers compensation.
Workers compensation requires no element of blame (what lawyers call fault or negligence). An injury at work or the required connection to work triggers the right to claim workers compensation no matter who was at fault for causing the injury.
Time limits apply ! Generally, you must make a claim workers compensation within 6 months of your injury. There are exceptions to that general rule but if you are aware that your injury resulted from your work and you try to claim workers compensation after 6 months, you may run into problems. (Different time limits apply for work damages).
Workers compensation covers many things but in general you will be compensated with weekly payments of income support; payment of treatment expenses; payment of travel expenses to obtain treatment; payment of rehabilitation and payment of return to work programs. You may also be entitled to a lump sum payment for permanent impairment. TIP: seek legal advice before accepting any lump sum payment because you may exclude yourself from a second and much larger claim – a work damages claim.
Workers compensation covers physical injuries and psychiatric injuries. It covers injuries of “latent onset”, that is, injuries that you acquire but are hidden from you because the symptoms are not yet obvious (e.g. asbestos related diseases). Injuries may be a single event, such as an injury to your back whist lifting or they may occur over a period of time, such as a repetitive strain injury to a typist’s wrist.
In Queensland, workers compensation payments rarely last forever. WorkCover QLD insures most employers in the State for workers compensation liability. (The other employers are called “self-insurers”). The insurer (or self-insurer) may stop paying you because they have a medical opinion that your work injury is no longer stopping you from working. Your workers compensation claim may end when the insurer sends you a Notice of Assessment of your Work Related Impairment.
When your workers compensation claim is nearing an end or has ended, if you have not done so already, seek legal advice. The reason is you may have a much larger and more significant claim – a common law claim known also as a negligence claim or a work damages claim.
Work Damages (or common law claim or negligence claim)
In the context of work injuries, the law imposes a very high standard of care upon employers to protect workers from injury. It is usually not difficult to establish negligence or fault in the field of work injuries. These claims are paid by the insurance company of the employer.
As at 25/2/2015, before being able to consider a work damages claim, you must have an accepted worker’s compensation claim and an assessment of permanent impairment of greater than 5%. TIP: seek legal advice before accepting any lump sum payment because you may exclude yourself from a much larger work damages claim.
Work damages claims are far more wide reaching than workers compensation claims. For a start, you are compensated for wage loss in an entirely different way – full wage losses of the past may be recovered and future predicted wage loss to likely retirement age, because of the effects of your injury, may be recovered. You are also likely to be awarded payment for pain & suffering beyond any lump sum payment offered as part of your workers compensation claim.
In essence, a workers compensation claim pays you for some of your losses “in arrears” or as they are incurred. A work damages claim does that and more – PLUS a work damages claim pays for predicted future losses including wages, pain & suffering and treatment expenses.
Please contact us to discuss your work injury claim. We are available for home visits in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and out to Toowoomba. We practice in QLD, NT and northern NSW.