If you have been injured at work an experienced lawyer can advise you of your rights and help you to claim workers compensation.
The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) regulates and administers the workers compensation system in New South Wales. This is a no-fault scheme, providing injured workers with weekly benefits and access to medical assistance such as physiotherapy and rehabilitation and home care, whilst they recover.
In this article we answer some key questions arising from workplace injuries.
Claiming compensation for injury in the workplace
Workers compensation law is aimed at supporting workers who are injured, aggravate a pre-existing injury or condition, or become ill as a consequence of:
- performing their usual work duties on or off work premises;
- an incident arising out of their employment
- travelling to and from work (in very limited circumstances).
A workplace injury or illness may include physical or psychological injuries.
Compensation is usually payable for workplace injuries even if there is no fault on the part of the employer as long as the injury is work-related.
If you suffer a workplace injury it is essential you complete and lodge a workers compensation claim form with your employer, no matter how minor the injury may seem at the time. Before lodging your claim form however, you must first report your injury to your employer.
How do I report my injury?
New South Wales workers compensation legislation requires workplace injuries to be reported as soon as possible after the injury and before voluntary resignation from employment.
A workplace injury can be reported verbally, by completing an injury notification form or by making an entry in the injury register book held by your employer. The report of the injury must contain your name and address, the date on which your injury occurred and the nature and cause of your injury.
How do I lodge my workers compensation claim form?
Following any injury, your employer must provide you with details of its workers compensation insurer and provide a compensation claim form when a request is made. This form should be completed by you and lodged with your employer.
If medical treatment is required for your injury, you have the right to consult your own doctor. Whilst some employers may insist you consult their “company doctor”, you are under no obligation to do this.
You should have your doctor complete an SIRA Certificate of Capacity (formerly known as a WorkCover certificate) even if you initially do not require time away from work. This certificate should be submitted to your employer along with your claim form.
Is there a time limit for making a claim for compensation?
A claim for workers compensation should be made as soon as possible to ensure you receive appropriate support for your recovery and to protect your legal rights.
Time limits apply and failing to lodge the appropriate documents within the prescribed timeframes may make it difficult to pursue your claim for compensation benefits.
Generally, a claim for workers compensation should be made within six months of your injury. In certain circumstances this can be extended to three years although you should not assume you will qualify for any extension. If in doubt you should speak to your lawyer immediately.
What are my employer’s obligations?
Your employer must notify its workers compensation insurer within 48 hours of your injury if workers compensation is payable or may be payable.
Within seven days of receiving your claim form, your employer must complete their relevant sections on the form and forward it to their insurer with copies of your wage records. The employer must also forward, within seven days of receipt, any documents you provide in relation to your claim such as medical certificates or accounts and receipts for medical expenses incurred.
If you are unable to perform your normal work, following your injury, but are fit to perform selected or suitable duties, your employer is obligated to provide you with those duties if they are available.
During the first six months after you become incapacitated your employer cannot terminate your employment because of your injury or inability to perform your pre-injury duties. If this occurs, your employer will be guilty of an offence and you will be entitled to apply for reinstatement of your employment.
What are the insurer’s obligations?
Upon receipt of initial notification of your injury, the insurer must within seven days:
- provide you and your employer with a claim notification number;
- make contact with you and your employer and also your treating doctor;
- commence injury management, if you are likely to be incapacitated from work for a period of more than seven continuous days;
- decide whether to approve provisional liability payments in respect of weekly compensation benefits and medical expenses and if approved, commence payments.
Other compensation benefits which may also be payable are travelling expenses and lump sum payment for permanent injury. You may also have the right to make a claim for damages if you sustain injury as a result of the negligence of your employer.