Assessing Whether You Should Apply for Workers Compensation
Most people suffer some kind of work-related injury or illness in the course of their careers, whether it’s simply catching the flu from fellow workers or something more serious like a fall or machinery-related accident.
Deciding whether you should apply for workers compensation because of an injury sustained at work or travelling to or from work, comes down to whether you have suffered (or will suffer) physically or financially because of it.
If as a result of your injury or illness, you incur:
- medical and rehabilitation expenses
- medically-related expenses, such as travelling for treatment
- lost income due to time off work
then you are eligible to apply for workers compensation. In Australia it is a no-fault system, where negligence does not have to be proved in order to be eligible for compensation.
What many people are unaware of is that, if you suffer physical or psychological impairment as a result of your injury or your injury is deemed to be permanent, then you may also be entitled to compensation in the form of a lump sum payment(s).
If you do decide to lodge an application, then time is of the essence. Time limits apply and the longer you leave it, the less likely it is you will receive compensation. It is advisable to lodge a compensation claim within six months of an injury, although claims can still be made after this time.
In the case of illnesses that develop over time (such as mesothelioma), the time limit starts from when you first knew your illness was work-related and sought medical advice or took time off work.
The following steps should be taken when applying for workers compensation:
- Notify your employer and fill out a workers compensation claim form
- Seek medical advice
- Obtain advice about your entitlements from a compensation lawyer.
If your employer disputes your compensation claim, you can request a hearing before the Workers Compensation Commission. Depending on the nature of the dispute, it will then be resolved either by an arbitrator or through medical assessment.
Whether your claim is disputed or not, compensation laws vary from state to state, so it is always a good idea to seek legal advice to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to. There are lots of good compensation lawyers and some even operate on a no win, no fee basis.
Even though Australia has a no-fault compensation scheme, if you are able to prove your injury was a result of negligence by your employer or some other party, you may be able to make a common law claim as well. Again, it is wise to seek legal advice in such instances.
Deciding whether to lodge a workers compensation claim is a difficult decision for many people, who are often concerned about reactions from employers and fellow workers.
At the end of the day though, if you suffer an injury at work that results in a physical or financial burden for you and your family, you should not feel guilty about applying for compensation.
The workers compensation system was set up to protect workers in just such circumstances and providing it is not abused by people making fraudulent claims, it should continue to do so long into the future…