Tim White answers common questions about WorkCover claims in Western Australia.
Personal Injury Lawyer Tim White answers common questions about WorkCover claims in Western Australia.
Despite increased awareness and the extensive safety precautions that many companies take, work injuries unfortunately remain commonplace in Western Australia.
This is particularly so in Western Australia given the heavily industrial nature of a large proportion of the workforce. The manual nature of this work can mean that the injuries sustained are significant, often resulting in permanent impairment and long term restrictions.
What must be established for an injury to be deemed “work related”?
It is generally not necessary to show that your injury has resulted from any negligence at work in order for it to be accepted by WorkCover WA. If your injury has arisen out of or in the course of your employment, irrespective of how it has occurred, it will most likely be accepted.
In certain circumstances, if you have a permanent injury assessed as greater than 15%, and your injuries arose as a result of negligence by your employer, you may have further entitlements to compensation in addition to what is provided for by WorkCover WA (such as a common law damages claim).
What entitlements do you have under WorkCover WA?
The main entitlements are:
1. Weekly payments while you are unable to work due to your work injury. The level of weekly payments should be equal to what your income was immediately prior to your work injury.
2. Reasonable medical expenses. If you are receiving medical treatment or incurring medical expenses due to your work injury, all reasonable costs associated with that should be paid. This can include things like consultations with your doctor, treatment from a physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist, surgical costs, medication and various other medical expenses.
3. Permanent impairment claim, if you have sustained a permanent disability. If your injury has stabilised and you are left with a permanent disability, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment. The amount of the lump sum payment depends on the extent of the percentage of permanent disability you have sustained. It is important that that percentage disability is assessed by an appropriate medical specialist. Usually this payment is only received once and it is therefore important that it is assessed correctly.
4. Rehabilitation expenses. This can involve a wide range of costs such as retraining, undertaking relevant courses or further study, assistance with locating suitable employment and various other aspects of rehabilitation.
Can I be dismissed from my work due to my work injury?
Generally no, an employer is not entitled to terminate your job simply because of your work injury.
If you are able to undertake some work following your injury, your employer has an obligation to provide you with suitable duties (that are within your restrictions).
Even if you are only able to work part time or limited hours, generally your employer has an obligation to provide you with suitable duties, within those limited hours. If you have been incapacitated for a period of at least 12 months, and you are not able to return back to work, it is possible then that your employer can terminate your job. However there is a fairly complex process your employer must go through. For this to occur, the individual circumstances of each worker must be considered.
Can I dispute a decision by the insurer if I am not happy with it?
Yes you are entitled to dispute a decision made by the relevant insurer regarding your work injury claim. There are a large range of issues that can arise in relation to a work injury claim and some of the disputes can include :
1. Disagreement over the extent of the permanent impairment assessment;
2. Dispute over ceasing of weekly payments;
3. Initial rejection outright of the work injury claim;
4. Refusal to pay medical treatment or costs;
5. Incorrect calculation of your notional WorkCover weekly payments.
You are entitled to legal assistance with disputes in relation to your work injury claim and usually some or all of your legal costs are covered by the relevant WorkCover insurer if you case is successful.
Are medical certificates important?
Yes medical certificates are very important and relevant to your work injury claim. Whilst you have ongoing restrictions from your work injury you should ensure that you maintain up-to-date medical certificates, which can be provided by your usual GP or specialist. You are entitled to consult the doctor or GP of your choice, you do not have to attend a doctor appointed by the WorkCover insurer.
Looking for South Australian workers compensation information? Read our WorkCover Survival Kit.
Tindall Gask Bentley is a leading Australian workers compensation law firm. If you are injured and have made a claim, we offer free initial interviews. To arrange an appointment, contact our Perth office on (08) 9211 5800 or register online here.
If you have not made a claim, disregard this publication.