If you were hurt at work or you have been diagnosed with a work-related illness in New South Wales, you probably feel as if you’ve been put through the proverbial wringer. In addition to the pain and suffering you’ve experienced, you’ve had to deal with the emotional and financial stress stemming from mounting medical expenses and lost income due to your inability to work. To make matters worse, you’ve just learned that WorkCover have rejected your claim. The good news is there is something you can do.
In order to dispute WorkCover’s determination, it is important to understand why your claim was rejected. Of course, the reason will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Whatever their reason, they must provide you with their decision in writing.
In general, WorkCover routinely denies claims because:
- The person making the claim does not meet the legal definition for a ‘worker’;
- The illness or injury wasn’t entirely work-related, or
- The compensation sought is excessive given the nature and extent of the illness or injury.
WorkCover may also reject your claim if no one saw what happened; if there are any inconsistencies between your account of what happened (on the initial accident report) and evidence (including medical records); if there is reason to believe you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident; or if there is reason to believe you have a pre-existing condition that caused or contributed to your illness or injury. By far, the most common reason for denial, however, is the failure to report the accident to a supervisor immediately.
With all of that being stated, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, your legal classification as something other than a regular, full-time employee does not preclude you from seeking worker’s compensation. Secondly, lack of witnesses is not automatic grounds for denial of the claim if you sustained a serious or catastrophic injury and there is no doubt as to how it happened.
It is also important to note that the way in which you can dispute WorkCover’s initial determination depends on where you work, because there are different rules for doing so in each state. In New South Wales, you can begin by asking the insurance provider for a review. You can do this by stating your reasons for the request on the application form supplied by the insurance provider. You should also provide additional evidence or information to support your case along with this form. You should get an answer within 14 days.
In a best-case scenario, WorkCover will reverse its previous decision and accept your claim. If it doesn’t, you still have options.
If the insurance provider stands by its initial decision upon review, your next step is to seek assistance from the Workers Compensation Committee (WCC). Operated by the Government, the WCC addresses disagreements between worker’s compensation claimants and employers or insurance providers. Depending on the circumstances of your case, WCC may assign someone who is well versed in worker’s compensation law, called an arbitrator, to help resolve the matter.
Bear in mind, however, that the WCC will not accept any new evidence at this time. Instead, it will only consider the merits of material you initially provided on the accident report and request for review.
You should also be aware that you don’t need to do all of this yourself. At a time when you and your loved ones are likely feeling intimidated and overwhelmed by everything you’ve gone through, it is important to retain a skilled and knowledgeable worker’s compensation lawyer who can thoroughly assess your case and fight for your rights. To learn more about how we can help if WorkCover rejected your claim in New South Wales, contact us today.