If you are an employee and you were injured at work you have 6 months from the date of injury to make a claim for WorkCover statutory compensation (Section 132 Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act (“WCRA”)).

You should fill in an Application for Compensation which should be supported by a WorkCover Medical Certificate from your treating Doctor.

If WorkCover accept the claim the test is for a physical injury that employment is a significant contributing factor whereas the test for a psychiatric or psychological disorder is that the employment is a major significant contributing factor (Section 22 WCRA).

If WorkCover determine that your injury arose out of the course of your employment then WorkCover will pay your medical expenses, rehabilitation expenses and loss of income arising out of your time off work.

If your employer is in breach of a duty of care towards you then you may have a claim for common law damages against the employer.

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Broadly Speaking, a duty of care falls into two Categories

  1. Duty to provide a safe place of work
  2. Duty to provide a safe system of work

Generally, most injured workers consult a lawyer after the statutory claim has been accepted by WorkCover, but it is a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible after your work injury.

What do I do if WorkCover reject my claim?

If WorkCover reject your claim for WorkCover benefits because it does not satisfy the criteria detailed above, then they will send you a letter informing you of same. From the date of that letter you have 3 months in which to appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator.

In an appeal to the Regulator you have to satisfy that WorkCover has made an error in rejecting your claim.

It is important that you seek legal advice well before the 3 months are up.

If the appeal to the Regulator is unsuccessful then you have the opportunity to go to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (“QIRC”) and you have 20 business days from the date of the Regulator’s decision to lodge an appeal to the QIRC.

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Notice of Assessment

When medical evidence is that your injury is stable and stationary WorkCover can apply to have your injury assessed for permanent impairment or alternatively you can request that your injury be assessed for permanent impairment.

For a physical injury this involves an assessment by an individual doctor from the WorkCover approved list of medical practitioners.

If the doctor is of the view that your injury is stable and stationary, then WorkCover will issue a Notice of Assessment.

When the Notice of Assessment is issued you have 20 business days to either agree with the degree of assessment or request a further medical examination. You can also elect to go to the General Medical Assessment Tribunal.

Generally, for a physical injury, if you are not satisfied with the assessment, you request a further medical assessment and if you
are still not satisfied with that further medical assessment then request you be referred to the General Medical Assessment Tribunal.

By way of contrast, all psychiatric injuries must be referred to the General Medical Assessment Tribunal – Psychiatric.

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Examples of Work Injuries

Injures at work are as varied as the varied number of different employments.

Examples of work injuries are –

  • Construction workers injured on a building site for example falling off scaffolding;
  • Injuries while using specific machinery for example hand injuries while using an electric saw to cut wood;
  • Meat workers injured in an abattoir for example a boner injures his shoulder boning a frozen carcass;
  • Lifting injuries for example lifting a heavy generator on the back of a utility without mechanical assistance;
  • Injuries arising from contact with chemicals for example a farm worker exposed to pesticides;
  • Crush injures for example injury to a foot as a result of heavy equipment falling and crushing the foot;

If you have been injured at work, it is essential you obtain legal advice.