If you or someone you love has been through the ordeal of an accident at work or on the road, the last thing you probably feel like doing is making a personal injury claim.
You may feel daunted or confused by all the information confronting you, and don’t know how or where to start.
But when you may be entitled to compensation needed to help with your recovery and financial future, it’s worth getting armed with the right information.
This article will walk you through a simple, step-by-step process on how to make a claim, so you can feel confident you’re on the right track.
Injuries and their impacts can be complex - but making a claim doesn’t have to be
Sadly, injuries are a common experience for a very large number of Australians.
In 2016-17 there were 106,260 serious claims for workplace injuries nationwide, with an average time lost from work of 5.6 weeks and an average compensation payout of $11,500 per claim.
No two injuries are the same, and all injuries will affect people differently.
In our Ballarat office where I work, we see new clients every week with a wide range of injuries and related conditions, from the minor to the very significant and/or complex. The same can be said across all our practices.
For those people who’ve been unable to work for a long time due to their injury, most would never have thought they’d be out of the workforce for so long when they were first injured. They may have experienced financial, mental and social impacts on top of the physical suffering.
We simply can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it.
Compensation can make all the difference to your future recovery and financial security
That’s why it’s so important to have something to fall back on just in case you do end up being out of work for a prolonged period and/or your condition worsens.
And finding out if you’re eligible for compensation to look after your recovery and your future is easier than you think.
Making a motor vehicle accident claim
No matter where you live in Australia, there’s a similar sequence of steps to take after a motor vehicle accident.
However, the insurance scheme you’ll be claiming through will be different depending on where you live.
In the step-by-step instructions below we’ll use the Victorian legal system as an example, but you’ll find similar instructions for the claims process in your state or territory by visiting the websites listed here:
- Australian Capital Territory - ACT Insurance Authority
- New South Wales - State Insurance Regulatory Authority
- Northern Territory - Territory Insurance Office
- Queensland - Motor Accident Insurance Commission
- South Australia - CTP Insurance Regulator
- Tasmania - Motor Accidents Insurance Board
- Victoria - Transport Accidents Commission (TAC)
- Western Australia - Insurance Commission of Western Australia
If the Police have attended the scene, this is generally already taken care of. If not, call the local Police station or drop in to report the accident.
Tell your doctor about how you were injured. Make sure you report ALL your injuries, even if you think they’re only minor.
Ask your doctor to complete a TAC medical certificate detailing your injuries, any impacts on your ability to work, and any further treatment you may need.
You’ll speak to a friendly person who is there to help and guide you through claim lodgement.
They’ll be filling in a computerised claim form as you speak to them. The operator will work through the accident details, and will also ask about your injury and employment situation to start assessing any impact on your earnings.
The TAC will then send you the completed claim form in the mail along with your claim number.
When the claim form arrives, check to make sure the details are correct. If not, make corrections and return it, or call the TAC to let them know.
The TAC has 21 days to accept or reject your claim, and they may ask for more information before deciding.
For example, they may want to see hospital records, your doctor’s notes or payslips to confirm your earnings. The 21 days may be extended to allow for all this to happen.
You don’t need to wait until you lodge a claim to take this step. I would encourage any injured person to speak to a lawyer as early in the process as possible, regardless of how minor or serious their injury seems, to get initial advice about their rights and entitlements.
Making a worker’s compensation claim
WorkCover schemes differ slightly in each state and territory, so check the below process against the WorkCover authority where you live. Your lawyer can help you if needed.
Again, we’ll use the we’ll use the Victorian legal system as an example.
Fill in an incident report form and/or tell your supervisor what’s happened.
You should do this as soon as possible (if not immediately) after the injury, or after you’ve seen your doctor.
However, this must be done in writing within 30 days of you becoming aware of the injury or your WorkCover claim may be rejected.
Even if you’re not planning to make a WorkCover claim, you should still complete the incident report form at your place of employment.
This will give you something to fall back on if your injury worsens and you decide to lodge a claim. It becomes an important piece of evidence and records specific details should you ever need it.
Tell your doctor about your injury and that it happened at work, and ask them to record the details. If you’re going to need time off work, have the doctor complete a “certificate of capacity” for you.
You can get the form from a Post Office, your doctor or the WorkCover authority in your state. We also have forms at our offices.
Complete the claim form and either hand it to your employer or send it to them via post. One important piece of advice is to make a copy of anything you send in relation to your claim, in case it becomes lost.
Once your employer has been provided your claim form they have 10 days to forward the form and their own employer claim form on to their WorkCover claims agent, and the agent then has a further 28 days to advise you whether or not your claim has been accepted.
Again, take this step as early as practical. If any of the following apply to you, it’s especially important to see a legal expert if:
- You have suffered a flare-up of an existing injury or disease while at work
- You have suffered a psychological injury at work
- You want to know more about your potential to obtain lump sum compensation
- Your WorkCover claim has been rejected
- Your employer is pressuring you to return to work
- The insurer won't pay for a particular expense
- You've never received advice about a workplace injury
- You just want to know where you stand within the law
How we can help
At Slater and Gordon, your first appointment is free*.
We’ll lay out the whole process for you, including what to do if it turns out your injury is more serious than initially thought, and you need to pursue a lump sum claim.
We’ve helped many people like you get the best outcomes they need and deserve at law with their claims.
If you have a question, want some more information or would just like to speak to someone, make an enquiry now and our Personal Injury team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.