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Workers Compensation Maze

Negotiating the NSW Workers Compensation maze

By Tonya Longmore – Solicitor, Workers Compensation

31 August 2016

If you, or one of your family is injured or becomes ill in the course of your employment, your employer’s workers compensation insurance will help you with medical expenses, rehabilitation costs and loss of earnings.

The aim of workers compensation is to assist you to recover and, where possible, to return to work as soon as possible.

In 2012 the system was changed and a number of entitlements for workers were limited, reduced or eliminated altogether.

In August 2015 the NSW State Government revisited the legislation and increased some of the benefits available to workers, and to employers. These included:

  • Premium reductions for employers with good safety history;
  • Increased maximum lump sum compensation for permanent impairment;
  • Increased death benefit for families of those killed in the course of their employment;
  • Increased maximum for funeral expenses;
  • An extension to the cap on medical benefits, lifetime of compensation for artificial aids, home and vehicle modifications for approved claims;
  • A lower threshold to qualify for payment of medical expenses for life for injured workers with permanent impairment; and
  • Assistance with retraining and education for eligible workers

Twelve months down the track from the introduction of those changes and we have seen some benefit for some workers. However the system remains difficult for injured workers and their families to negotiate.

I, along with a number of other very experienced personal injury lawyers at Commins Hendriks, can assist injured workers and their families to ensure that they are aware of, and receive all available entitlements to assist with recovery and return to work.

Here are some steps you should take if you do suffer an injury at work:

Report it to your employer and/or immediate supervisor and ensure the notification is recorded

Seek appropriate medical attention either by way of attending the local emergency department or your GP

If you require time off work, obtain a WorkCover NSW – Certificate of Capacity from the medical practitioner

Keep your employer informed as to your condition

Basic entitlements

Once a claim’s been lodged with your employer’s workers compensation insurer, you’ll be assigned a case manager who’ll assist you with payments, and will liaise with you, your employer and your treating medical practitioners to facilitate a return to work.

You’re entitled to receive weekly benefits at a percentage of your average weekly income whilst you are unable to return to your pre-injury duties. You’re also entitled to payment of all reasonably necessary treatment expenses. However, you must obtain approval from the insurer before incurring any treatment costs (other than emergency treatment).

Further entitlements

Unfortunately not everyone who suffers an injury at work is able to quickly recover or can return to their pre-injury employment. Additional benefits are available in certain circumstances which include:

Domestic assistance – assistance with cleaning, gardening etc. whilst you’re unable to perform that work

Lump sum compensation – where a worker suffers a permanent impairment which exceeds the threshold

Work Injury Damages – where there is negligence on the part of the employer, and the permanent impairment threshold is reached

We can assist you with working out what, if any, entitlement you have. We can help you to ensure your obligations under the legislation are met, and that you’re aware of what your employer and their insurer are required to do to assist you in your recovery.

For more details and assistance, please contact us on 1800 643 779.