Injuries in the workplace can have devastating consequences for workers, such as long-term pain, suffering or a loss of future income. If you have been injured in the workplace, you may be eligible for compensation by making a Workers’ Compensation claim. However, these claims are subject to strict time limits and you may be denied the opportunity for compensation if a claim is not made in the appropriate timeframe. Read on to find out more about the time limits for Workers’ Compensation claims and why you should act fast
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Worker’s Compensation provides compensation to workers who have suffered injury, illness or a reduced work capacity as a result of the course of their employment. The Workers’ Compensation system aims to provide injured workers with assistance during their recovery, and to support a safe and appropriate return to work.
What are the criteria for making a Workers’ Compensation claim?
The following conditions must be satisfied before making a Workers’ Compensation claim:
- The worker must be an employee
- The worker must have a medical condition that has been diagnosed by a medical practitioner
- This medical condition must have arisen due to the course of the worker’s employment, where the employment was a substantial cause of the condition
- The worker has suffered a financial loss
What are the time limits that apply to Workers’ Compensation Claims?
A Workers’ Compensation claim must be made within six months of the date of injury or incident. However, this six month time limit may be extended to three years, but only in certain circumstances where there is a reasonable cause for not making the claim earlier.
Examples of a reasonable cause may include:
- Absence from the State
- The worker does not become aware of their injury until some time after.
Should this occur, the time limit does not begin from when the injury occurred, but from the moment that the worker because aware of their injury and what caused it.
In the event of a death or serious permanent impairment of the worker, a Workers’ Compensation claim may still be made even after the three year period has elapsed, provided that there was a reasonable cause for the delayed claim.
Who is considered an employee?
To be eligible for Workers’ Compensation, a worker must be deemed to be an employee.
An employee can be:
- A full-time worker
- A part-time worker
- A casual worker
- A volunteer
- A trainee, apprentice or work experience student
Notifying your employer of your Workers’ Compensation claim
Workers’ Compensation claims are made directly to WorkCover, not your employer. Therefore before a Workers’ Compensation claim can be made, the worker must notify the employer of their injury. The notice of the injury may be given verbally or in writing and must include the following details:
- The name and address of the injured worker
- The cause of the injury
- The date on which the injury occurred
What is considered as an injury?
- Injuries suffered during work activities, or at your workplace as a result of your work.
Injuries can be physical (such as bodily injuries, strokes or heart attacks) or mental (such as severe stress and psychological conditions).
- Diseases caused by your work (such as cancer)
- Pre-existing conditions made worse by your work (such as asthma)
What is not considered an injury for the purposes of Workers’ Compensation:
- Injuries sustained whilst travelling to or from work
- Dust diseases
Do I need medical certification?
A Workers’ Compensation claim must be substantiated with medical certification from a medical practitioner, stating that the worker has a medical condition and that their employment was a substantial contributing factor to this condition.
No fault requirement
Before the implementation of Workers’ compensation, the only means of receiving compensation was for a worker to prove negligence on the part of their employer. Now with Workers’ Compensation, there is no requirement to prove the employer was at fault – workers only need to prove that their injuries were substantially caused by their employment.
How long can you stay on workers compensation in australia
and what type of compensation can I receive?
There are five basic types Workers’ Compensation entitlements, including:
- Weekly payments
Compensation for when the injury has caused a loss of earnings, such as if the worker is unfit or incapacitated for work or, if upon returning to work, the worker is earning less money than before (make-up pay).
- Medical expenses
Compensation for all medical charges, including hospital and rehabilitation expenses. It may also include the expenses of travelling to and from the doctor.
- Permanent impairment
Compensation for damage to a body part, resulting in a permanent loss of function.
The amount payable is based on the percentage of the whole person which is impaired (where the minimum threshold for impairment is over 10% of the whole person).
- Property damage
Compensation for damage to artificial aids or damage to clothing.
- Death benefits
Compensation for a work-related death, which may include family support and coverage of funeral expenses.
The compensation a worker can receive varies between each individual claim, and is based on the type, nature and severity of the injury.
Why workers may avoid making a claim earlier
Many workers often delay in making a Workers’ Compensation claim because they believe that any minor injuries they have sustained will heal with time. A relevant example would be a worker who sustains a minor work-related injury on Friday, and believes that the injury will heal over the weekend.
Another contributing factor to the delays in making a Workers’ Compensation claim on time is that workers do not wish to appear troublesome to their employer, or fear that they will given a hard time at work for making a claim. Some workers may even fear that they will face a dismissal from work for putting forward a claim. However workers can rest assured that they cannot their employment cannot be terminated, or they cannot be discriminated against, purely because of a filed Workers’ Compensation Claim.
Why you should act as soon as possible
Referring back to the example of the worker who believes that their injury sustained on Friday will heal over the weekend, the worker in this case has jeopardised their chance for Workers’ Compensation simply by failing to report their injury as soon as possible to their employer, with a delay of over two days. If on Monday, the worker’s injury has not healed, substantiating the cause of the injury is now much more difficult. There may have been events over the weekend, such as sporting activities or other recreational activities, which may arguably be seen as the cause of the worker’s injury, thus making it more difficult to prove the injury is work related.
The most appropriate actions the worker could have taken were to:
- Report the injury to his employer as soon as it occurred
- Seek medical attention as soon as the injury occurred
This ensures your best opportunity at receiving Workers’ Compensation, as it substantiates that your injury was the result of the course of your employment, and if the injury persists, the worker has a record which can give them a better chance of a successful claims.
Schreduer Partners, as a specialist in Workers Compensation, can provide you with legal assistance in your Workers’ Compensation Claim. Get in touch with us today.