Seven factors to consider before making a claim for workers’compensation

When you’ve sustained a workplace injury, you need to remember that legal protections can help you secure the medical treatment and financial assistance you need.

If your medical practitioner advises you to take time off work you will usually be entitled to weekly payments of compensation, and payment of your reasonable medical expenses.

What to consider before making a claim for workers’ compensation

1. Provide as many details as you can.

When you inform your GP of your workplace injury, they’ll take a history and note what happened to you. It’s crucial to take this opportunity to provide your doctor with accurate details of the incident, even if those details seem unimportant at the time. If there are any issues about the cause of your injury at a later date, your GP may need to know exactly how the work injury happened.

If you need any time off work, you should also ask your doctor for a WorkCover certificate.

2. Be wary of making statements.

Do not make a statement to a WorkCover investigator.  You have no legal obligation to do so. We have seen honest workers have trouble getting their claims accepted after they have provided statements, as they haven’t appreciated the significance of the document they are signing. If in doubt, get advice.

3. Know what to do if your claim for compensation is rejected.

If your claim is rejected, you should dispute the decision. At first instance, you will go to the conciliation service (which is free). If this fails to resolve the dispute, you will then have the option of going to court. It’s very important to seek legal advice about your claim’s merits rather than simply give up because you’re worried about the ramifications or legal costs of challenging a rejection of your claim.

4. Realise that a claim won’t work against you.

Some injured employees feel guilty or anxious about making a workers’compensation claim. They worry that taking action will give them a bad reputation, cause their employer to reduce their work hours, or cost them their jobs. If your employer is discriminating against you in such a way, remember that the law can assist you. The fact is that if you’ve suffered an injury at work, you’re entitled to make a claim. Taking the time to rest, heal and receive medical treatment on your doctor’s advice is likely to be better for you in the long run.

5. Know that your employer is insured for these types of incidents.

We spend a lot of time at work, so a lot of injuries occur in the workplace. As a result, the law requires employers to have WorkCover insurance. This is a no-fault scheme, so in making a claim, you’re not saying your employer is to blame; you’re simply saying that you’ve been injured at or from work and you need time off or cover for medical expenses to recover, or both. Again, your employer’s insurance covers these requirements–it doesn’t come out of your employer's pocket.

6. Make your claim as soon as possible.

If you need time off or cover for medical expenses, or both, you should make a WorkCover claim as soon as you can. You will then have to see an independent medical practitioner, who will give the insurance company or self-insured employer their medical opinion (rather than provide you with treatment or advice). The practitioner will also provide a report for insurance purposes.

7. Seek legal advice.

If you suffer an injury at work, seek legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity. It’s best to seek advice even if WorkCover accepts your claim, because you may be entitled to other rights to substantial compensation. This may be in the form of a no-fault lump sum for a permanent injury; compensation for your pain, suffering and permanent loss of income; or disablement benefits under your superannuation policy. Whatever WorkCover’s assessment of your claim, call our office to find out whether you’re entitled to anything else.

Liberty Sanger is a Principal, board member and Practice Group Leaderin Maurice Blackburns Melbourne offices.

TOPIC: Work rights
RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: Work related injuries

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Liberty Sanger

Maurice Blackburn Melbourne
Liberty Sanger is a Principal Lawyer and Board member at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, and she leads our national personal injury compensation departments. Liberty is a qualified Law Institute of Victoria Personal Injury Accredited Specialist and she is recognised by the prestigious Doyles Guide as one of only five leading lawyers in workers' compensation in Victoria. Liberty says she became a lawyer to help people. “I love getting excellent results for my clients. The process of obtaining compensation can be very stressful and confusing. Having to navigate your way through the WorkCover system at the same time as dealing with the consequences of your injury and the permanent changes to your life and life plans can be completely overwhelming. Knowing this, I am driven to make sure that I take that stress away from my clients and get them the best result possible. I have been told by many clients that having Maurice Blackburn on their side from the beginning of their claim took a load off their mind, and that the compensation I have obtained for them has made a real difference to their lives. Knowing the approach to my work and the outcomes I achieve has had that impact on their lives is incredibly satisfying.” Liberty is Chair of Maurice Blackburn’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, which is charged with recommending strategies and initiatives to the Board to ensure that every employee feels comfortable to bring their whole unique self to work and thrive in an accepting and supportive environment. She has also been appointed Chair of the Victorian Government’s Equal Workplaces Advisory Council as part of their Gender Equality Strategy. The Council has been asked to identify government action that will promote the achievement of gender equality, to identify promote and publish good practice examples of initiatives that work to promote gender equality and to consider the issues and linkages relating to pay equity, equality and productivity to achieve equitable outcomes for women and men. "While we've achieved a lot, there is still a long way to go. When you look at the data, you see significant gaps in the areas of pay, leadership and workforce participation, and a grossly disproportionate representation of women affected by family violence, bullying and harassment. And there can’t be any explanation for this other than differential treatment of the genders. The good news is that we can take action to redress all of these things. While it will take courage and leadership from all of us to do so, we will all benefit when we get there," says Liberty. Liberty was raised in Wodonga and stayed true to her roots while progressing social agendas on national platforms through a number of political and community organisations. A self-confessed “committed unionist and opinionated chatterbox”, Liberty regularly voices her views on The Friday Wrap with Jon Faine on 774 Melbourne radio, by reviewing newspapers on ABC News Breakfast with Virginia Trioli and Michael Rowland, and as a regular panelist on Politics HQ on Sky TV. She has also been a guest on the ABC’s Q & A TV show.  Memberships & accreditations Law Institute of Victoria Member Law Institute of Victoria Personal Injury Accredited Specialist Australian Lawyers Alliance Member Maurice Blackburn Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee Chair (2017-present) Ministerial Council on Women's Equality member (2017-present) Melbourne Olympic Parks Trust member (2017-present) Equal Workplaces Advisory Council Chair (2017-present) McKell Institute Advisory Board member (2016-present) YWCA Life Member Emergency Services State Super Fund Board Director (2010-2013) Federation Square Pty/Ltd Board Director (2009-2012) Victoria Law Foundation Board Director (2004-2009) Liquor Control Advisory Council Chair (2006-2009) Media Code of Conduct Working Group on Body Image Chair (2007-2008) Awards Doyles Guide - Work Injury Compensation Lawyer, Vic - Leading lawyer, 2016, 2017 ...

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