Workers Compensation

I have suffered a psychiatric injury at work in Western Australia. What should I do?

If you are making a psychiatric claim to WorkCover WA it is important you are aware of the process. TGB senior associate Nakkie Le Roux outlines what you can expect.

If you suspect that you have suffered a psychiatric injury at work the first thing you should do is see your GP. Your GP will be able to assess your condition and provide a diagnosis with appropriate treatment recommendations.

If your GP suspects your psychiatric injury occurred at work they will provide you with a First Medical Certificate. You should then provide the First Medical Certificate to your employer together with a completed Workers’ Compensation claim form. You should keep a copy of both documents.

Your GP may recommend that you attend counselling or therapy with a psychologist or even a psychiatrist. If you are certified unfit for pre-injury duties, you should continue to obtain and provide your ongoing Certificates of Capacity to your employer until such time as you have made a complete recovery.

Once you have lodged your claim, your employer’s insurer will commence investigating your claim. You may be required to attend an independent medical specialist assessment with a psychiatrist. Usually your employer’s insurer will arrange and pay for the assessment in order to obtain specialist evidence required to assess your claim.

If you are requested to attend such an assessment, you should ensure you attend the assessment in a timely fashion. If you are unable to attend the assessment, you should contact your employer’s insurer to make alternative arrangements as soon as possible otherwise you may have to pay hefty cancellation fees.

Your employer’s insurer may also require you to provide a witness statement and, in some cases, may appoint a private investigator to attend with you to obtain your witness statement. It is recommended you obtain independent legal advice before you attend with a private investigator.

The process of investigation can take up to three months or even more to assess, during which time your claim will be pended. This could have devastating effects on your ability to earn an income. If you are certified unfit for pre-injury duties and you have exhausted your leave entitlements, your employer is likely to process your absence as unpaid leave. In such circumstances it is recommended that you obtain independent legal advice as soon as possible.

Not all psychiatric injuries meet the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act of 1981 (Act). This means that you may not be entitled to workers’ compensation entitlements.

It may also be that a dispute arises between you and your employer’s insurer. If for example you do not agree with the assessment of your claim, you have the right to challenge it and lodge an application at WorkCover WA. It is recommended that you obtain independent legal advice to assist you with such an application.

TGB Lawyers has more than 40 years experience helping injured people. Get in touch here or call our West Perth office on (08) 8212 1077 to make an appointment for your free claim assessment.