A worker who is injured at work is entitled to compensation benefits including (subject to restrictions) payment of medical expenses, compensation for wage loss and compensation for permanent impairment suffered.
Injuries suffered in the course of employment can often need little by way of time off work or treatment. However, even the most innocuous incident can lead to considerable financial and medically disastrous results. They can, at first, seem not to have caused much by way of damage. However, it can take considerable time for symptoms to materialise or an employee may fear for their job if they make a claim.
It’s imperative that workers lodge incident reports and workers compensation claim forms for all incidents to which they have suffered injury. These forms are available from your employer and must be provided upon request. It is also advisable to seek medical attention by your local medical physician so that your medical condition is documented and you obtain an opinion as to the severity of your condition. This claim form must be as comprehensive in detail as possible, including all injuries suffered, even when the symptoms seem mild at the time.
The Workers Compensation legislation sets time limits for the lodgement of claims. Any delay could mean that you lose the right to compensation. You must inform your employer that you have suffered an injury as soon as possible: Section 254 Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (NSW).
If you did not inform your employer and wish to make a claim, you must show special circumstances, including:
- That the employer hasn’t been placed into a position of disadvantage in responding to or dealing with your claim,
- You did not tell your employer due to your “ignorance, mistake, absence from the State or other reasonable cause”,
- Your employer knew about your injury anyway, or
- Your employer reported the circumstances to the nominal insurer.
You must also then lodge your claim for compensation within 6 months of the injury: Section 261 Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 (NSW).
If you lodge a claim after the six month period, you must show special circumstances, including:
- You didn’t lodge you claim in time due to some ignorance, mistake, absence from the State or other reasonable cause AND you made the claim within 3 years of your injury;
- You didn’t lodge a claim in time due to some ignorance, mistake, absence from the State or other reasonable cause AND your work incident has caused serious and permanent disablement;
- The insurer accepts your claim and fails to mention this issue, or
- Your injury was only realised after the incident and you have complied with one of the conditions listed above.
We strongly advise you to immediately lodge a claim for workers compensation and notify your employer of any injury. This will ensure your rights to compensation aren’t taken away from you, especially if there is a delayed or late onset of a serious condition. Indeed, I have come across many situations where employers have attempted to convince workers not to make workers compensation claims, instead agreeing to meet their time off work and treatment expenses themselves. Whilst workers may wish to keep their employer happy for reasons of job security, it must always be borne in mind that such agreements with your employer are far from secured long term. Given the protection from termination for 6 months from your claim (Section 248 Workers Compensation Act 1987) and the common uncertainty as to how long your condition may take to recover, the prudent course must be to lodge a claim for workers compensation. Should your condition require surgery, or seems to be causing you serious and permanent financial and medical hardship, you should contact our office in order to seek advice as to what other rights you might have to compensation.
Timothy Driscoll LLM (Sydney) Associate of BPC 4 October 2017