and compensation claims
Who does Comcare cover?
If you work for the Commonwealth or ACT Government or one of these licensed organisations, you are covered under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (SRC) Act 1988 (Cth) whether you work full time, part time or as a casual employee.
This means that you can claim compensation for injuries or diseases caused or made worse by your work. You are entitled to claim for payment for benefits such as time off work, household and attendant care services, permanent impairment and non-economic loss, and all reasonable medical expenses including treatment, medication and more.
This includes pre-existing injuries and diseases that are aggravated by your work. It also includes injuries and diseases suffered while:
- at your regular place of employment
- working away from your place of employment
- travelling for work (injuries that occur while traveling between work and home are not covered, but you may be able to make a claim with your State or Territory road accident insurer)
- obtaining a medical certificate or medical treatment required by Comcare or your employer
- undergoing a rehabilitation program or medical examination required by Comcare or your employer.
How do I lodge a Comcare compensation claim?
If you have suffered an injury or disease caused or made worse by your work, you should lodge an incident report, see your doctor for a medical certificate and lodge a workers’ compensation claim form as soon as possible.
Comcare or your employer must then decide if they are liable for your injury or disease. They will make a decision in writing either accepting or rejecting liability for your injury or disease. If you disagree with the decision, you can request that Comcare or your employer reconsider their decision. You must make a reconsideration request within 30 days of receiving the initial decision.
Comcare or your employer will then make a second decision in writing, called a reviewable decision. If you disagree with this decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if you lodge an Application for Review within 60 days of receiving the reviewable decision.
If you have an accepted claim for an injury or disease, the same decisions process applies to any other decisions made by Comcare or your employer throughout the course of your claimsuch as payment for time off work, medical treatment or permanent impairment compensation,
Because the claims process can be complicated and time limits apply, it's important to seek advice about the claims process. We can help steer you in the right direction. Also, your lawyer may be able to help you appeal a decision made by Comcare or your employer—for example, if they stop your payments or treatment. And if you lose an appeal, they can advise you on what to do next.
Frequently Asked Questions
Unlike many other firms, we have workplace injury lawyers who focus solely on Comcare claims. Our team understands every aspect of the process, and we offer your first consultation for free.
We offer 'no win, no fee'* arrangements for these types of cases, which means that you don’t have to pay for our legal services if we don't win. We have Comcare lawyers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Townsville who provide advice to workers all across Australia. Contact us today to find out how we can help.
We're also dedicated to improving the Comcare scheme for workers. We provided detailed submissions to the federal government's Review of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act of 1988 (which related to the Comcare scheme). We also attended stakeholder meetings with Comcare and government representatives responsible for improving the Comcare scheme.
Compensation is payable under Comcare for:
- physical injuries, such as an injured back, arms or legs
- injuries suffered while you are temporarily performing a work activity away from your place of employment
- injuries suffered travelling for work or while travelling to, or attending, an approved place of work or education
- injuries suffered while obtaining a medical certificate, medical treatment or undergoing a rehabilitation program or medical examination required by Comcare or your employer
- any disease caused, or contributed to significantly, by work, including pre-existing diseases if work has aggravated the condition (this may include cancers, degenerative conditions, strokes, heart conditions and psychological conditions).
The Act allows your employer or Comcare to deny a claim for psychiatric injury if they can show that it was caused by reasonable administrative action. Administrative action may mean:
- reasonable disciplinary action
- failure to obtain a promotion
- failure to obtain a transfer
- failure to obtain a benefit in connection with employment.
- employment-related performance appraisals
- suspension action
- disciplinary action
- retention of a benefit.
Since 2007 injuries suffered while travelling between work and your home are not covered. However, you may still be able to lodge a claim with the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer in your state.
You are entitled to payment of all reasonable medical expenses. These include:
- hospital fees
- nursing care
- dental treatment
- prescription medicine
- medical aid.
As well as treatment from:
- registered physiotherapists
- massage therapists.
If you can't return to work, you are entitled to receive 100% of your normal weekly earnings for the first 45 weeks you are off work. If you can’t return to work after the first 45 weeks, you are entitled to receive 75% of your normal weekly earnings. If you can return to work, but not on your usual hours, you are entitled to a top-up payment.
If you suffer a permanent impairment due to your work-related injury, you may be entitled to claim a lump sum permanent impairment benefit. This is a set amount of money paid to you to compensate you for non-economic loss, for example, the pain and suffering that your permanent injury will have on you for the rest of your life. You must be assessed by an independent doctor who will provide a permanent impairment rating if your injury is permanent. You will only be entitled to a lump sum if your injury is assessed as 10% or higher.
A lump sum payment does not impact your ongoing Comcare benefits, such as compensation for medical expenses; however, you can’t sue for damages and claim a lump sum. Instead, you have to make a once and for all choice — so it’s important to talk to us about your best course of action.
To be entitled to receive a lump sum payment, you need to establish that your injuries have stabilised, which usually happens approximately 12 months from the date of your injury or your last operation.
We provide help with permanent impairment claims right from the very beginning of the process. We can help you lodge the claim form to maximise your entitlements. We may also act for you to appeal the decision if it is not reasonable.
Comcare or your employer can decide to stop your payments or benefits at any time if they believe that you are no longer entitled to them. This may happen when Comcare determines that you no longer have an incapacity for employment or you no longer need some or all of your medical treatment, or you no longer have a work-related injury or disease. Comcare or your employer can also revoke liability for an accepted injury or disease if they believe that the original acceptance was wrong.
If you believe this is unfair and you want to appeal the decision, you must apply for reconsideration within 30 days. Comcare or your employer will then make a second decision in writing, called a reviewable decision. If you disagree with this decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if you lodge an Application for Review within 60 days of receiving the reviewable decision.
We can provide you preliminary advice on appealing a decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and may be able to act on your behalf.
Yes, you can appeal a decision by Comcare or your employer.
If you have made a reconsideration request and it has not gone in your favour, we can advise you about the next steps to take after you have received a second decision, known as a reviewable decision. This may include taking your case to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). An application to the AAT must be made within 60 days of receipt of the reviewable decision.
To be entitled to pursue a claim for common law non-economic loss damages you require a minimum level of impairment, usually assessed by a specialist, of 10%.
You must first lodge a claim for permanent impairment and be determined to have a 10% permanent impairment before you can choose to sue your employer under common law. Common law claims for non-economic loss under the Comcare scheme are capped at $110,000.00 in damages. You cannot accept a permanent impairment lump sum and sue your employer under common law. We can provide you advice about these options.
You generally have three years from the date of your injury to make a common law claim, although this might be extended if your injury has not yet stabilised or if you have not been assessed for permanent impairment.
A third party is a person or organisation other than your employer who may have caused or contributed to your injury or disease. It is common for workers to be injured due to the negligence of a third party. The time limit generally is three years from the date of your injury. Common law claims against third parties can affect your ongoing entitlements under the Comcare scheme, so legal advice is essential.