If you have suffered an injury or disease at work or in the course of your work, including diseases or pre-existing conditions made worse by your work, you may be able to claim workers compensation and possibly common law damages against your employer and any other third parties who are at fault.
The Queensland WorkCover scheme covers full-time, part-time and casual employees. It also covers other categories of persons (such as some volunteers) who are deemed to be workers. If you are a sub-contractor, you still may be regarded as a worker.
You may also have an entitlement to claim common law damages against another party’s public liability insurance policy. The Comcare Scheme covers Federal employees and the employees of some national employers who insure under the Comcare Act (the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988).
Who is the claim made against? Who pays the compensation?
If you work in Queensland or your principle place of work is in Queensland, your claim will be made, in most cases, against WorkCover. If you make a claim for damages against another party, the claim is likely to be met by that party’s public liability insurer.
If you work in Queensland and are employed by the Federal Government your claim will be made against Comcare pursuant to the Comcare Act.
For a limited number of workers who work for some national employers who are licensed under the Comcare scheme, your claim will be made against a private insurer pursuant to the Comcare Act. If you are a member or former member of the Australian Defence Force, you may be entitled to compensation under the Military Compensation Scheme or Veterans’ Entitlements Scheme if the injury or disease relates to your service. The Australian Government pays the compensation.
See the following links for further information about Comcare claims
> Comcare claims
What can you claim?
Under WorkCover, you may be entitled to claim a range of compensation benefits including reasonable medical and hospital expenses, reasonable rehabilitation expenses, loss of wages (subject to limits), return to work programs and lump sum compensation for work related impairment.
If negligence can be established, you may be entitled to a broader range of benefits including:
general damages for pain and suffering
past medical expenses
past wage loss
past loss of superannuation
future medical expenses
future wage loss
future loss of superannuation.
In the event of a death of a worker, other benefits are claimable by dependents including funeral expenses and dependency benefits.
How do I make a claim?
You should report all injuries or diseases to your employer and consult a doctor as soon as possible. You doctor should complete a WorkCover medical certificate.
You also need to lodge a WorkCover claim form with WorkCover, along with your WorkCover medical certificate. This can be done by obtaining or downloading a form from WorkCover or telephoning WorkCover. Your entitlement to compensation commences from the date you consulted a doctor. If a claim for workers compensation is lodged with WorkCover more than 28 days after the date the injury occurred, WorkCover will not pay you compensation for the first 28 days.
If the injury or disease occurred as a result of the negligence of your employer, court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years. A claim for lump sum compensation for permanent impairment has no time limit so long as WorkCover has previously accepted your claim for medical expenses and/or weekly payments.
How long will it take to resolve my claim?
WorkCover has 20 days to decide whether to accept or reject your claim.
If WorkCover rejects your claim or ceases paying you compensation, you can apply for a review of the decision by lodging a request for a review with Q-Comp within three months of receiving your notice of WorkCover’s decision. If Q-Comp does not overturn WorkCover’s decision, further avenues for review exist but tight time limits apply.
If you wish to seek a review of WorkCover’s or Q-Comp’s decision, you should seek legal advice.
Once your injury has stabilised and is unlikely to improve with further medical treatment, you can seek an assessment of your permanent impairment. The impairment is assessed according to impairment tables and frequently by the Medical Assessment Tribunal. If you are assessed as having a work-related impairment, WorkCover will then offer lump sum compensation. Depending upon the level of your work related impairment, you may elect to pursue a claim for common law damages instead of accepting lump sum compensation, or also claim common law damages in addition to accepting the lump sum compensation.
The time limit for claiming common law damages is 3 years from the date of you become aware of the injury. Before commencing proceedings, you will be required to complete a pre-court procedure. The average time frame from the issue of a notice of assessment for permanent impairment to a settlement conference is less than one year. Most cases settle without the need to commence proceedings.
The area of lump sum compensation is complex and you should seek legal assistance before embarking on this aspect of your claim.