Published: 31 October 2017
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Is injury or illness causing financial stress? Your local lawyer and a financial counsellor can help

Recently, our lawyers have noticed a trend in which clients are more concerned about the financial impact of being on weekly compensation payments through either the WorkCover or TAC system.

A road accident or workplace injury results in increased medical expenses and reduced income for thousands of Australians each year, but can you imagine unexpectedly losing 20 per cent of your income?

That’s what happens if you are forced by circumstance to rely on WorkCover or TAC payments for an extended period. Yet your cost of living doesn’t suddenly reduce because you have been injured.

Legislation governing WorkCover states that workers receive 80% of their pre-injury weekly earnings after the first 13 weeks (they receive 95% for those first 13 weeks), and TAC legislation says road accident victims may receive 80% of their loss of earnings.

Injury can cause financial ruin

In some cases, clients can be devastated when agents suddenly terminate the injured workers' weekly WorkCover entitlement payments. Unfortunately, even in cases where we are confident that the agent has made a wrong decision, if the insurer won't budge from their position we will often need to issue court proceedings. The problem with going to court is the waiting time in order to have the matter heard in a local Magistrates Court. This is because the Magistrates who deal with WorkCover cases only visit regional courts for a limited number of weeks each year, resulting in lengthy delays waiting for the claim to be heard. And whilst waiting for their case to be heard, clients are inevitably forced to survive on Centrelink payments or their spouses income.

It's common for accident victims to suffer extreme financial stress during this time, and that's where financial counsellors can provide assistance. Experienced financial counsellors can advocate on a client’s behalf and provide tools to assist them to deal with their bank, get debts under control, and to waive utility bills and/or have payment plans put in place.

Financial advisors can play a valuable role on the road to recovery

At the Financial and Consumer Rights Council (FCRC) Conference in Lorne earlier this month, recently appointed Executive Officer of the FCRC, Sandy Ross, said his first impression was that members of the sector clearly:

  1. Value community
  2. Balance helping with empowering; and
  3. Display a strong sense of social justice.

This impressed us, as these are the values that also underpin how we operate at Stringer Clark.

The Barefoot Investor and best-selling author, Scott Pape, was a highlight of the conference and demonstrated the power of the value in seeking assistance from a financial advisor.

At Stringer Clark, we collaborate with financial counsellors by helping their clients access any Total and Permanent Disablement or Income Protection Insurance. We act in these matters on a No Win No Fee OR Expenses basis, which means we pay for obtaining medical reports and medical records, and certain other expenses in support of their claim. This is because we understand that clients may be unable to pay for legal assistance until they can successfully access compensation for their injuries.

Compensation can be featured in Insurance or Superannuation

Having spoken with several financial counsellors at the conference it was apparent that they too see many clients who do not realise they have insurances attached to their superannuation policy.

If you, or anyone you know, is unable to work or is struggling financially due to an injury or illness, we encourage you to seek assistance from one of our lawyers, and potentially from a financial counsellor too.

Visit FCRC for further information, as they provide a free and independent service, and can put you in contact with a financial counsellor in your area.

In regard to your potential to access Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance through your Superannuation fund, please contact Stringer Clark today by calling 1800 641 743 or via email. You can also find out more by downloading our Superannuation TPD claims ebook from the Ryan Carlisle Thomas website.

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