Published: 21 August 2020
Author: Ross Inglis

Health workers can claim WorkCover for COVID exposure

Negligent employers expose themselves to big payouts

Doctors, nurses and other health workers have been in the news recently, highlighting their concerns about high infection rates to COVID-19. See The AgeHealth staff want automatic WorkCover rights, as new mask concerns emerge.

In particular, the head of the Victorian Ambulance Union, David Hill, has written to Victoria’s Workplace Safety Minister Jill Hennessy, asking her to create a new "presumptive" right for those on the healthcare front line to automatic WorkSafe compensation.

He has specifically called on the Victorian Government to make coronavirus a "proclaimed disease”.

This makes sense and we support the request for COVID-19 to be a proclaimed disease under all relevant legislation.

These claims should be accepted under Workcover immediately if it is established that the infected worker contracted the illness at their place of employment.

What health workers need to know about WorkCover

Any health worker contracting COVID-19 during the course of their employment can claim under the WIRC Act 2013 ( WorkCover). If that health worker has been exposed to the disease as a result of an employer’s negligence, the infected worker may have an action for damages which would include significant financial compensation.

Claim forms can be obtained from the Post Office. You can also download a Worker's Injury Claim Form from the WorkSafe website.

Once diagnosed, the health worker should inform the employer immediately. A completed claim form should be lodged with the employer along with a WorkCover medical certificate.

That employer must then lodge the claim with their WorkCover claims agent. They are required to make a decision within 28 days.

These claims should be accepted and weekly income compensation paid, along with payment of hospital, medical and pharmaceutical expenses.

More serious injuries

Should a worker have a permanent impairment as a result of the exposure, they may have a claim for impairment. Such claims can be lodged 12 months post the initial infection date, subject to stabilisation of the condition. There is no time limit to lodge an impairment claim.

If a worker has been exposed to COVID-19 as a result of an employer’s failure to take adequate steps to protect the worker, then the infected worker may have an action for damages. These damages may amount to large compensation payments awarded by the courts.

Serious permanent impairment would have to be established on medical assessment.

However these claims need to be lodged within 6 years of the exposure date or diagnosis.

All claims for workers' compensation have differing circumstances and are unique. If you have any questions regarding your elegibility to make a WorkCover claim, please contact us on 1800 641 743 or enquiries@stringerclark.com.au to arrange a free first interview.

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