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It happens to many people at some stage of their working lives.
Injury can be a traumatic experience. Just and adequate compensation may not remove the pain but it can help you get on with the rest of your life.
Victorian workers (other than those employed by the Commonwealth Government) are generally covered by Victoria's workers compensation scheme called WorkCover – formerly called WorkSafe. Casual and part-time workers, out workers, subcontractors and the self-employed are also covered by WorkCover.
If you're injured at work, you are almost certainly entitled to some level of compensation under WorkCover. This may include weekly payments, medical expenses and, if you are permanently injured, a lump sum payment.
Why Stringer Clark's local expertise matters
In the case of serious injury, it is often nearly impossible and certainly inconvenient to require a client to attend the lawyer's office. Which is why, if you are seriously injured, we will come to you. At home or in hospital.
Our lawyers are locals, which means they spend more time at the office and not on the road from Melbourne. This means you benefit from quicker appointment times and a lot more flexibility should you need to re-schedule.
If medical reports are required to properly evaluate your condition, we know the leading local doctors and specialists who we deal with every day. You benefit from having excellent medical advice close to home, reducing the need for long travel times to Melbourne which can be both costly and inconvenient.
Western Victoria also now has a number of rehabilitation centres, including for example the Indoor Leisure and Aquatic Centre in Hamilton, and Aquazone in Warrnambool. The installation of an MRI machine in Warrnambool also means that clients no longer have to travel to Ballarat, Geelong or Melbourne for this scanning.
However, if you are required to go to Melbourne to attend doctors' appointments, remember to obtain receipts for meals (the insurer will currently pay a maximum of $15.90), kilometres travelled, and parking and other expenses so that these costs can be recovered from the insurer.
To obtain any benefit, you must know your rights under the WorkCover system. At Stringer Clark, we can inform you about those rights. Having a good lawyer can also make lodging a WorkCover claim a relatively quick and inexpensive task. If you think you have a legitimate WorkCover claim, contact us today. We are happy to offer you a free, no obligation, initial consultation as part of the Stringer Clark service.
If you've been injured at work – the 4 must do steps
Don't hide an injury or delay in reporting it.
Tell your boss. Your employer is required by law to keep a Register of Injuries. Make sure your injury is recorded.
Lodge a WorkCover claim form immediately. Your employer must give you a claim form on request. Fill out your injury details. Your boss must then fill out and sign a portion of the claim form and send it to your employer's insurer. It is a good idea to tell your union delegate because they can make sure the paperwork is done properly.
Make an appointment to see your own doctor for treatment as soon as possible. It is important it is your doctor, because they know you and will put your interests first. You are entitled to be treated by the doctor of your choice.
It always pays to get legal advice. We are injury experts. Our first appointment is free. Come and see us, even if you simply wish to check you've followed the right steps, or you need advice on what medical or other expenses you may claim.
We can also advise you if you have a claim for lump sum compensation, either through WorkCover or through the Courts.
Important: If you don't report your injury within 30 days, you may not be covered.
The WorkCover scheme at a glance
There are basically two types of compensation:
Administered directly by WorkCover according to a set schedule of benefits, and
Made through the Courts and available where the injury is serious and caused by the fault of the employer or a third party.
Weekly payments and medical expenses are paid regardless.
Common Law lump sums are typically much larger payments.
What are the basic benefits?
All types of medical expenses may be claimed if it helps you get back to work. That's the point of WorkCover. This includes physio, chiro, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy.
The employer is required to help you design a rehabilitation and return to work plan, with a choice of rehab centre.
Rehabilitation expenses may include home help, modifications to your home or car, and gardening.
Weekly payments can be made for up to 75% of your (pre-injury) earnings for:
|Up to 104 weeks||if injured before 01/01/05|
|Up to 130 weeks||if injured on or after 01/01/05|
If you are permanently disabled in some capacity, you may continue to claim a payment, and even a lump sum.
Payments are made to people working at least 15 hours a week.
WorkCover can award lump sum compensation payments, also known as impairment benefits, for permanent significant injury. These are part of the scheme of benefits that WorkCover manages.
The criteria for entitlement to a lump sum claim are tough and WorkCover can reject claims.
The best rule if you are considering making a lump sum claim is therefore to get legal advice.
As a general rule, you must have suffered at least a 5% physical impairment as assessed by WorkCover, or a 30% psychiatric impairment.
Here's a rough guide:
|30% psychiatric impairment:||$69,540|
Entitlement to a lump sum does not affect your weekly payments or other expenses.
Nor does it stop you pursing a Common Law damages claim.
Under some circumstances, where the injury is severe or there is obvious employer or third party negligence, your claim for compensation can be contested in the common law Courts.
These are called Common Law claims and typically they result in much larger payouts than the no-fault lump sums regulated by WorkCover.
If it is our opinion that you have a Common Law claim, we will advise you of that. In the end, it is your decision. But as we only receive a fee payment if you win under our "No Win No Fee OR Expenses*" policy, it's in our interest to get it right.
How big a payout? A rough guide
Note: these amounts are awarded for pain and suffering. Additional lump sums are often obtained for loss of earnings.
|Spinal Cord damage consisting of immobility in affected area (e.g. upper or lower limb):||$250,000 – to the maximum of $511,920|
|Spinal fusion surgery:||Good surgical result: $150,000 – $250,000
Poor surgical result: $250,000 - to the maximum of $511,920
|Discectomy surgery:||Good surgical result: $100,000 – $150,000
Poor surgical result: $150,000 - to the maxiumum of $511,920
|Laminectomy surgery:||Good surgical result: $100,000 – $200,000
Poor surgical result: $200,000 - to the maximum of $511,920
|Foraminectomy surgery:||Good surgical result: $150,000 – $200,000
Poor surgical result: $200,000 – to the maximum of $511,920
Common back conditions
Non-surgical back injury e.g. minor disc bulge or prolapse, with no nerve root impingement:
|$100,000 – $200,000|
|$100,000 – $300,000|
|Spondylolysis:||$100,000 – $300,000|
|Spondylotic Myelopathy:||$250,000 – to the maximum of $511,920|
|Cervical fusion:||Good surgical result: $150,000 – $250,000
Poor surgical result: $275,000 – to the maximum of $511,920
|Non-surgical neck injury e.g. minor disc bulge or prolapse, with no nerve root impingement:||$100,000 – $200,000|
|Mesothelioma:||$250,000 - $400,000|
|Other respiratory conditions:||$80,000 – $400,000|
|Loss of sight in one eye:||$175,000 – $250,000|
|Psychiatric injury:||$100,000 – $200,000|
|Head injury:||$150,000 – $400,000|
|Shoulder injury:||$75,000 – $300,000|
|Paraplegia:||Likely to be the maximum of $511,920|
|Quadraplegia:||Likely to be the maximum of $511,920|
Ron Pearce is our firm's Managing Partner and also leads a team of experienced lawyers, consultants and legal executives working across the RCT Group to whom Stringer Clark clients also have access for their work injury matter.
If you'd like to make an enquiry about a legal matter, talk about a career at Stringer Clark, or perhaps have a suggestion on how we can improve our service or even our website, we'd like to hear from you.
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