Published: 19 April 2018
Author: Kellie Knowles
When is it too late to claim WorkCover?
If you have been injured at work but delayed making a WorkCover claim it may not be too late to do so.
While it is desirable to lodge a WorkCover claim as soon as possible after injury, there is no absolute deadline to make a claim. What is important is that you have notified your employer of the injury or illness within 30 days after you become aware of the injury or illness, ideally in writing in the workplace injury registrar. If notice is not given, this may be grounds for the WorkCover agent to reject your claim, but there are exceptions.
Can the 30 day notice period be extended?
The agent can waive or extend the 30 day deadline if it was not reasonably practicable for you (or someone on your behalf) to give notice of your injury. This includes failing to notify your employer of your injury because of ignorance or mistake, or due to undue influence or duress, or not being in Victoria. It is always disappointing to hear of employers not doing the right thing and threatening to sack workers for recording their injuries or lodging a WorkCover claim. This is discriminatory conduct and is prohibited by law.
The agent can also waive or extend the 30 day deadline if relying on it would cause serious injustice to the worker, or if it does not unfairly prejudice the employer.
The importance of recording injuries and witnesses
Of course, the exceptions are no help if you are unable to establish you have been injured at work. This can be particularly difficult if you have delayed making a claim and your employer has no record of you being injured. Other written accounts of your workplace injuries can be helpful here, such as emails, text messages, or notes in a personal diary. Also, in our experience, if you saw your doctor around the time you were injured, the doctor’s notes can be critical in establishing the injury is related to your work. If there are no written records, try and recall if there were any witnesses at work and/or whether you told family and friends about the injury. You can nominate witnesses on the claim form.
If your injury was due to an accident involving a motor vehicle, you need to report the accident to the police.
We have had much success helping clients get their delayed claims accepted, even years after injury. This has meant clients have been able to access medical treatment they could not otherwise afford and, if their injuries prevent them from working, weekly payments. In some cases, we have been able to secure lump sum compensation many years after the injury occurred. But while there is currently no deadline to make a no-fault impairment benefit claim, there is a 6 year deadline to make a common law damages claim.
If you have delayed making a WorkCover claim, Stringer Clark can advise you on the likelihood of your claim being accepted and your potential entitlements. Don’t delay in seeking our advice or making a claim.