Injuries at the workplace happen more often than you think. It could result from lifting heavy boxes, being regularly exposed to high-decibel sounds of working machinery or dust particles, even asbestos.
In Australia, employers are required by law to create a safe working environment for their employees. Even with steps and procedures in place to minimise injuries in the workplace, they can, and do, occur. Not being able to work doesn’t just deprive you of income, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health as well as that of your family’s. Taylor & Scott compensation lawyers are here to guide you in understanding your legal rights to seeking compensation for your injury.
Regardless of the severity of your injury you should always notify someone, like a manager or supervisor, if you’ve been injured at work. Your employer must provide first aid if necessary and record the injury in the register of injuries. Even if your injury is not serious at the time, it may cause ongoing problems so it’s important that the incident is recorded by your employer.
It’s also a good idea to seek medical treatment, even if you don’t think you need it. Some injuries may cause underlying problems which a medical professional can diagnose before it’s too late. A medical report written immediately after you’ve sustained an injury at work will also be useful if you need to make a workers compensation claim.
If you’re like most workers, you won’t have extensive knowledge of the law and policies surrounding workplace health and safety. It’s often something that people don’t look into unless they are actually injured at work, and a crash course in workplace health and safety legislation is challenging, let alone just after you’ve been injured at work.
Following an injury at work, many workers quickly become overwhelmed by the legal process. They can often miss important facts and therefore miss out on much needed compensation. It is therefore important that you seek professional legal advice from a lawyer as soon as possible.
Knowledge and Experience
An experienced injury compensation lawyer can review your case, and with their extensive knowledge of workplace health and safety legislation as well as relevant workers compensation legislation they can advise what you’re entitled to and the best course of action.
If you’ve been injured at work, there will likely be a mountain of forms and reports to fill out. You may also need to make decisions and research the best course of action. Multiple forms and decisions can be confusing for the novice, but with the help of a lawyer you can submit paperwork and make informed decisions in an efficient and timely manner.
When someone is injured in the workplace their employer can quickly become defensive, especially if they could be at fault. A negligent employer may even dispute the details surrounding the injury. With an injury compensation lawyer on your side from the beginning, you’ll be ready to deal with any disputes that arise and resolve them as soon as possible.
Fight Big Insurers
Insurers can be reluctant to pay compensation to injured workers. With an experienced injury compensation lawyer on your side, you’ll be ready to go up against the powerful insurance companies and have a better chance of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Peace of Mind
Speaking to a lawyer, even if you’ve been injured at work and it’s only a minor injury, can offer peace of mind. You’ll know that you’ve covered all bases and if any problems arise you’ll know that you have done all that is necessary.
Many workers who have been injured at work may hesitate to speak with a lawyer for fear of astronomical legal fees, however the fear is unfounded. Many firms, including Taylor & Scott Lawyers, will offer a free, no obligation, case assessment where they will discuss how you were injured at work and offer advice moving forward.
In this initial assessment an experienced injury compensation lawyer can review your case. They will be able to advise you if your case would benefit from their legal expertise, and if not then you would be free to walk away at no cost. If Taylor & Scott Lawyers take on your case they can make an application for a grant of legal assistance to cover all legal costs incurred in your workers compensation claim, which saves you the financial stress of pursuing compensation after you have been injured at work. This is all the more reason to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible if you’ve been injured at work.
What should an injured worker discuss with their nominated treating doctor during the initial consultation?
It is important that injured workers communicate with the nominated treating doctor exactly how the injury occurred. All injuries sustained in the accident should be recorded even if they appear to be minor at the time as it is often the case that minor injuries turn out to be more significant than first thought and it is difficult to add additional injuries later. All of these injuries should then be recorded not only in the clinical notes but also on the certificate of capacity which should be issued by the nominated treating doctor and provided to the employer and insurer.
Injured workers should always check that the doctor has recorded all information on the certificate of capacity and that all information is correct, prior to leaving the consultation. Any incorrect information should be corrected immediately.
What should the nominated doctor consider when determining an injured workers capacity to work?
Nominated treating doctors are constantly under pressure to return injured workers to work as soon as possible.
Whilst the goal of the scheme is to return workers to work, doctors have a responsibility to ensure that a worker has the capacity to return to work in a safe and durable manner. In order to do this the doctor not only needs to be aware of the workers injury but must also have an understanding of the workers work environment and what their job entailed and what suitable duties will be provided if the worker is unable to return to their pre-injury duties.
If a doctor is unaware of the duties the worker will be required to perform there is a risk that the worker will return to work too soon and will sustain further injuries. For example there is a big difference between the duties a worker who has an office job will be required to perform compared to a retail worker or construction worker. The availability of suitable duties will also differ vastly within these positions. It is therefore important that the doctor is fully aware of the situation they are putting the worker in. The injured worker must clearly communicate with their doctor about their role and the nature of their work and the availability of suitable duties.
What is a secondary injury?
A secondary injury is an injury that arises after the initial injury and because of the initial injury. For example a worker may have a right shoulder injury but then their left shoulder is injured as a result of relying on it more to compensate for the original right shoulder injury. Another common secondary injury is the development of a psychological injury such as depression or anxiety as the injured worker struggles to come to terms with their injury and the impact it has on their life.
It is important that any secondary injuries be listed on the certificate of capacity and reported to the insurer. An injured worker should also seek a determination on liability for the secondary injury to ensure that they will be able to claim compensation for all injuries.
A secondary injury is not an injury that was sustained at the time of the accident but not detected until later.
Can a worker be compensated for a secondary injury?
A worker is entitled to receive weekly compensation and medical treatment for secondary injuries provided the insurer accepts liability for these injuries.
In respect to receiving a lump sum, a worker can be compensated for secondary physical injuries but not for a secondary psychological injury.
Questions and Answers
If you have been injured at work it is advisable to speak to a qualified workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that you are receiving appropriate workers compensation benefits and to maximise potential claim outcomes. You should also inform your employer so they can contact their insurer. If your worker’s compensation claim is disputed, Taylor & Scott can communicate with the insurer and negotiate on your behalf, with the weight of the law on your side.
Workplace injuries can occur in any workplace situation although they are more common in dangerous and physically demanding jobs, although they can occur due to wide-ranging harmful, unplanned or critical situations that arise. Risks and hazards in the workplace include falling from heights, heavy lifting, repetitive strain, unsafe and slippery floors, poorly maintained equipment, falling debris and many more. Employers and business owners are obliged to create a safe and healthy environment for employees and visitors, with any negligence or breach of duty of care potentially causing injuries that can result in workers compensation and work injury damages claims.
If you are injured in a work injury a range of medical expenses may be paid by the worker’s compensation insurer.
Medically related treatments
Any treatment by a doctor, physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor, psychologist, an exercise psychologist, remedial massage therapist, counsellor or other allied health practitioners can be covered. You are also eligible to claim for nursing care and medical supplies outside of the hospital, along with the provision of artificial aids. Domestic assistance is available provided you have sustained more than 15% diminished physical capacity as a result of the injury.
This includes treatment received at both public and private hospitals and accredited rehabilitation centres.
These services include emergency services, non-emergency services and hospital transfers overseen by the Ambulance Service of NSW.
Workplace rehabilitation services
A range of assistance is available, including return to work programs, vocational assistance, job or workplace modification and other return-to-work programs.
This includes travel by taxi, bus, train or ferry for attending treatment centres for your injury. You can also claim the cost of petrol for travel to appointments, and if you are unable to travel alone, the insurer is obliged to pay for travel assistance.
If you have been injured at work, the worker’s compensation insurer will be liable to pay all medical and hospital expenses provided they have been preapproved by the insurer (this does not apply to expenses incurred in the first 48 hours after an injury) while ever weekly compensation payments are paid. If no weekly compensation payments are paid the insurer will be liable to pay medical, hospital and related expenses for up to 2 years from the date of injury. If weekly payments of compensation are paid, the insurer will be liable to pay medical, hospital and related expenses for up to 2 years from the date of the first cessation of payments. If you have sustained at least 11% whole person impairment the 2-year time limit becomes a five-year time limit. If you have sustained at least 21% whole person impairment, there is no time limit to claim for medical expenses. Your Taylor & Scott Lawyer will guide you through the claims process.
The insurer has 21 days to determine a claim for medical expenses.
Domestic assistance can include a lot of tasks around the home that you are no longer able to carry out due to pain or injuries. This includes household cleaning, laundry, lawn and garden care, plus transport needs not covered by medical, hospital and rehabilitation expenses.
In order to claim for domestic assistance an injured worker must:
In some situations, temporary assistance may be available for up to three months.
Secondary surgery is surgery that is a direct consequence of an earlier surgery and affects a part of the body affected by the earlier surgery and that is approved within two years from the date the original surgery was approved.
The actual surgery, however, does not need to occur within this two-year time frame; it just needs to be approved.
In order to make a legal claim for medical expenses, you will need to provide receipts related to your claim. These can include receipts related to medical and hospital treatments, ambulance services, rehabilitation services and travel expenses. Your claim number should be attached to all documents. If an employer or insurer disputes your medical expenses claim, Taylor & Scott will examine the documents and support your claim wherever possible for best possible outcomes. For legal advice related to your medical expenses claim, medical negligence, lump sum payments and other important matters, contact us today.
At Taylor & Scott, We Care For You.