7 Things You Need To Know About Work Injury Compensation in Victoria
A workplace injury often causes financial problems and stress, particularly when dealing with the complexity of a WorkCover accident claim. Fortunately, in Victoria, most injured workers are entitled to some type of compensation. Here are the 7 things that you need to know about injury compensation in Victoria.
1. In Victoria, your employer must have WorkCover insurance.
It is compulsory for employers to have WorkCover insurance. This means if you are injured in the course of your employment your employer's WorkCover insurer will pay for your medical treatment and lost wages. You can also receive lump sum compensation if you have sustained a permanent injury. These benefits are paid regardless of how the injury occurred, provided the injury was caused by work. The most common injuries seen in WorkCover claims include:
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
We also see many work-related aggravations of pre-existing injuries or medical conditions.
2. Timing is important for your work injury compensation claim.
a. If you are injured at work, you must give notice to your employer within 30 days.
Written notice is the best way to do this, by using the workplace injury registry book; although verbal notice is also acceptable. Technically, a claim might be rejected if notice of injury is not given within 30 days, but there are various exceptions in the WorkCover legislation which means late notification generally does not bar a claim from being accepted.
b. If you are unable to work because of your workplace injury, a claim for compensation for weekly payments must be made as soon as practicable after the incapacity becomes known.
c. Your employer has up to ten days to forward your work injury compensation claim for weekly payments to its WorkCover insurer.
This occurs via the Victorian WorkCover Authority. The WorkCover insurer generally has 28 days after receiving a claim with a medical certificate to accept or reject the claim. If no decision is made in time then the claim is deemed accepted and weekly payments must be made. If your employer is refusing to accept your WorkCover claim or you have not heard from the insurer within the time limit, then you should seek legal advice.
3. You may not need a medical certificate for your work injury compensation claim.
No medical certificate is required if your claim is for medical expenses only. However, the claim must generally be lodged within six months from the date that the medical expense was incurred. This time limit can be waived or extended in certain circumstances.
4. The WorkCover insurer may investigate your work injury compensation claim thoroughly.
The WorkCover insurer, to assist in making its decisions on your compensation entitlements, can have you medically examined at its cost. Failure to attend an examination may delay consideration of your claim. The insurer, in some instances, might also commission a private investigator to prepare a circumstance investigation report which might involve taking witness statements from colleagues, with an invitation for you to provide a statement. If this was to occur to you, you should seek immediate legal advice before going into great detail about the circumstances.
5. Medical treatment for a work injury is very important.
Obviously if injured in the course of your employment, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and to give your doctor an accurate history, including the date and details of the injury and brief circumstances. It is best to avoid excessive detail. For example, it would be sufficient to say, "I hurt my back when lifting a heavy box at work today", without going into great detail about the circumstances.
6. You have options if your work injury compensation claim has been rejected.
If your work injury compensation claim is rejected, it would be wise to seek legal advice. Essentially, you have two options. First, you can ask the insurer to review its decision. This rarely causes an alteration and will likely be a waste of time. Alternatively, you can lodge an application with the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service, disputing the decision. Your application must be lodged within 60 days from the notification of the decision, but sometimes applications will be accepted outside the 60 days if there is a good reason for late lodgement.
7. You may have more options if your work injury compensation claim has been accepted.
If the work injury compensation claim is accepted, it is important to know where you stand. It makes sense to engage early with a No Win No Fee lawyer to advise on issues which inevitably arise with your injury and claim, particularly if you have sustained a serious or long-term injury. You may even be able to sue for common law damages, so seek legal advice.