Published: 10 October 2017
Privacy and making a WorkCover claim
When I make a workcover claim, who is able to access documents about me? Can I refuse to provide private information?
Many clients are surprised that the following is the authority you give on a WorkCover claim form when you lodge a claim:
“I have read the information provided in this form. I declare that the information that I have supplied in this form, and any attachments to this form, is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I understand that the making of a false or misleading claim or false and misleading statement in support of the claim is punishable by law and that I may be prosecuted.
I authorise and consent to any person who provides a medical service or hospital service to me in connection with an injury/condition to which this claim relates to provide upon request by the workers’ compensation authority, my employer or insurer/claims agent, any information regarding the service relevant to the claim. I understand that my authority has effect and cannot be revoked for the duration of this claim”.
By reason of the above authority, your WorkCover insurer, employer, or the WorkCover authority may request from your treating practitioners any information relevant to the services your doctors have provided to you relevant to the claim (and the injuries you’re claiming for). This authority is ‘good’ for the life of your WorkCover claim, meaning the Authority, WorkCover insurer or your employer can rely on the authority to gather any such information up until any rejection or termination of your claim. However, they cannot use this authority to obtain access to any other information that may include bank statements, personal diaries, phone records, or anything of the sort.
If your claim is rejected or terminated (and you instruct solicitors to issue Magistrates’ Court proceedings seeking to review the decision to reject or terminate your claim) or instruct solicitors to pursue a claim against your employer for damages in the County or Supreme Courts, you are subject to the Court rules relating to discovery. This means that you may be required to produce any documents relevant to the issues in dispute, including any documents in your power, control or possession that may harm your case (not just those that support your case).
Once claims get to the Court proceedings stage, you need to be aware that your life is essentially an ‘open book’. However, this is not to mean that your private information is readily available to anybody; there are still rules about who has access to your private information and the Courts are very restrictive on who has access to their file. There are some limited circumstances where you do not have to produce information, but each case is different and (again) there is no blanket rule.
In any event, you should be prepared for anything in your medical records to come to the attention of your solicitors, the solicitors acting for your employer or WorkCover insurer and the Courts if you commence any proceedings or seek to make a claim for damages