If you are injured in the workplace, you may be entitled to receive compensation. In every state and territory there are government schemes that compensate workers who have been injured in the course of their work. If your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence (whether this was the negligence of your employer, a co-worker or a customer), you may also be entitled to make a common law personal injury claim.
Workers Compensation Claims
Workers compensation is essentially an insurance scheme. Employers in Australia are required by the government to take out this form of insurance so that their employees are covered if they are injured at work, or suffer an illness as a result of their work.
If you are injured at work, or you become ill as the result of your work, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. If possible, you should complete an incident report, or if your employer does not have specific forms, ensure that a written record is made of all of the details of the incident. You should also seek appropriate medical treatment and tell your treating practitioners the circumstances that caused the injury or illness. These contemporaneous records can prove vital to later demonstrate that your work was the cause of your injury or illness.
If you make a workers compensation claim and it is accepted, you will be covered for your wages while you are not able to work, as well as your medical expenses and rehabilitation to help you to recover. This compensation is not paid by your employer (who is only responsible for paying the insurance premiums) but by their insurer. However, if your employer has a number of claims from employees, this may increase their insurance premiums. As a result, your employer may try and discourage you from making a workers compensation claim. It is important that you seek independent and impartial advice that is focused on your best interests, especially if your ability to work in the future has been impacted.
Personal Injury Claims
A personal injury claim is made when you suffer injury or illness as the result of the negligence of someone else. This is different to workers compensation, which you can claim even if no one did anything wrong, as long as you were injured or became ill as a direct result of your work.
For a successful negligence claim, you need to prove that someone who owed you a duty of care failed to take reasonable care, and that you suffered damage as a result of that breach. Making a personal injury claim through the courts is often a difficult and time-consuming journey, but it may be necessary if you are to receive full compensation for your injury or illness.
Which Compensation Should You Seek?
Depending upon how you were injured or became sick, whether or not you were at fault, and your degree of incapacity, you may be eligible to make both a workers compensation claim and a common law negligence claim. It is important to be careful, as the workers compensation insurer may ask you to waive your right to make a common law claim. In every case, you need to be very careful that you do not sign away your rights to compensation under one scheme and accept a lesser amount. Take notice that only you and your solicitor are focused on ensuring that you receive everything you should.
You may be entitled to the following benefits from your work injury:
- Weekly compensation for loss of income;
- Lump sum compensation for permanent injury;
- Reimbursement of medical expenses;
- Rehabilitation and domestic assistance.