Every year, thousands of Australians are injured at work - in fact, in 2013-14 alone, there were 531,800 workers who reported suffering a work-related illness or injury.
During this difficult and stressful time, injured workers can receive a lot of information from employers, doctors and insurers when they report their injury. For many of us, this information can be overwhelming. It can cause additional anxiety and distress, with some feeling daunted by the thought of making a claim.
In this article, we’ve pulled together a simple, step-by-step process to help you understand your entitlements, how to make a workers’ compensation claim, and where to turn if things don’t go to plan.
I’ve been injured at work. What compensation am I entitled to at law?
Being injured at work can be a stressful and traumatic experience—not only are you having to deal with the negative impact of injury on your health and well-being, you may also have to take time off work to recover. This alone can be particularly stressful, especially if you are the sole, or majority, income provider in your household.
The good news is, if you’ve been injured at work, you may be entitled to compensation to help you recover from your injury. You may be entitled to:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income (in the form of a weekly benefit)
- Rehabilitation services
- Lump-sum compensation
- Legal cost
The claims process and benefits will vary by state, so it’s important you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in your state or territory; however, no matter where you’re located, there are some common steps you should take if you are making a workers’ compensation claim.
Five steps to making a workers’ compensation claim
We know the thought of making a claim can feel overwhelming, particularly when you are suffering from physical and emotional distress after a workplace injury.
To help make the claims process as simple and stress-free as possible, we’ve summarised the following five key steps to submitting a workers’ compensation claim for you.
Report your injury to your employer
By law, every employer is required to have an injury book or accident register you can fill in. If your workplace doesn’t have one, you can give your employer written details of your injury; for example, by sending them an email. Make sure you keep a copy of this written notice for your own records. If you do not notify your employer in writing within 30 days of becoming aware of the injury, then your claim may be rejected.
Visit your doctor
If you’ve suffered a work-related illness or injury, the first step is to visit your doctor for treatment. Even if you think your injury is only minor, sometimes the true extent of an injury is only revealed over time, so during this appointment it’s important to explain everything that happened to you.
Get a ‘Certificate of Capacity’ from your doctor
Your doctor will also give you a certificate saying you’ve had a work-related injury, which details your diagnosis and your capacity for work. The name of this certificate varies between states; most commonly, it is known as a ‘Certificate of Capacity’. This certificate is important for submitting your workers’ compensation claim.
Request a workers’ compensation claim form
Your employer should give this form to you when you report your injury. If they haven’t provided this form, you can also get one from your doctor or from the WorkCover authority in your state or territory.
Complete and submit your claim form
Complete the workers’ compensation claim form, attach your certificate of capacity to the form, and submit it to your employer. Be sure to also keep a copy of the completed form and certificate for your own records.
Lodging a claim should happen within three months of your injury, but don’t be discouraged if you’ve missed this timeframe.
There are several reasons why this might happen—you might have an injury that wasn’t diagnosed properly at the time of the incident, or you may be suffering from psychological distress that can take time to emerge after an incident.
What’s important is you follow the steps above as soon as possible when you first become aware of your injury.
I’ve lodged my claim. What happens next?
After your employer has lodged your claim form with their insurer, the insurer will contact you to let you know if your claim has been accepted.
If your claim is rejected, or if you haven’t received a response at all, it’s vital to get in touch with an expert workers’ compensation lawyer in your state to discuss your options.
What to do if things don’t go to plan
Sometimes, relationships between you and your employer can break down, which means you might not be able to follow the steps above. If your employer hasn’t provided you with a workers’ compensation claim form or hasn’t submitted your claim to their insurer in the required timeframe, you can call the organisation that regulates WorkCover in your state or territory:
They can tell you who your employer’s insurer is and give you the right claim form, which means you can lodge your claim directly with the insurer without having to deal with your employer.
If your employer or the insurer aren’t cooperating, it’s also important to call an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in your location. They can provide advice and assistance to help you submit your claim.
How we can help
Slater and Gordon are highly experienced in workers’ compensation and have expert teams in each state we operate. Our teams understand the devastating impact a workplace injury can have on health and well-being: we’re committed to helping you get access to your full entitlements to help you get your life back on track.
We're proud to support our clients with leading, affordable legal services, including through our 'No Win, No Fee' offer*, as well as a free initial consultation for workers' compensation cases**. We also offer free counselling support if needed.
If you or a loved one have been injured in the workplace, contact us online or by calling 1800 555 777.
We're here to help.
The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.