Published: 05 October 2016
Car accidents lead to car insurance claims, so why aren't more work accidents leading to WorkCover claims?
In our line of work, we see many people who have been suffering in silence. This is in part due to the Australian psyche not to complain and to “battle through it”, and in part due to many clients simply being unaware of their basic rights as an injured employee.
Often people injured at their place of work think their employer is doing the right thing by them by paying their medical bills and allowing them to stay at work. However, in most cases if they have suffered an injury, which is going to require ongoing treatment, lodging a WorkCover claim is the best course of action regardless of an employer’s encouragement to do otherwise.
Some employers help workers navigate the WorkCover system – others do not
Unfortunately, some employers, Return To Work co-ordinators and HR managers seem to think it is a personal insult to them when an employee, through no fault of their own, is injured and needs to lodge a WorkCover claim.
Nobody thinks twice about lodging a claim for a car damaged in a motor vehicle accident.
There is no reluctance to pursue car insurance and there is no stigma attached to having your car repaired. Perhaps one day our culture will embrace and understand that WorkCover claims are just the same - the employer has insurance for this very purpose, and no one should be discouraged from accessing it.
Lump sum compensation may also be available
Even if you have a supportive employer who helps you navigate the WorkCover system, they may not even realise – let alone encourage you to pursue lump sum compensation, as it can be a complex landscape to navigate, particularly while managing an injury. The WorkCover insurer won’t advise you that this compensation is available either, and if they do, they will not be able to advise you as to whether the assessment of your injuries is fair or whether you should appeal the decision to the Medical Panel.
Usually people seek legal advice when their weekly payments are terminated, or when the Workcover agent has failed to pay their medical expenses. They are often shocked to hear that they may also be eligible for a lump sum payment if they have suffered a permanent injury. The employer does not need to be at fault. If your WorkCover claim for weekly payments and/or medical expenses has been accepted it is highly likely that your lump sum claim will be accepted also.
Australia has extensive legislation in place to ensure employers create a safe working environment and that employees are protected. If you are injured at work as a result of a failure of your employer to provide a safe work environment you may also have access to compensation for pain and suffering.
Needless to say it pays to seek legal advice if you or a loved one experiences an injury at work.