WorkSafe (WorkCover) claims and work place injury

It happens to many people at some stage of their working lives.

Injury can be a traumatic experience. Just and adequate compensation may not remove the pain but it can help you get on with the rest of your life.

Victorian workers (other than those employed by the Commonwealth Government) are generally covered by Victoria's workers compensation scheme called WorkSafe (or WorkCover). Casual and part-time workers, out workers, subcontractors and the self-employed are also covered by WorkSafe.

If you're injured at work, you are almost certainly entitled to some level of compensation under WorkSafe or WorkCover. This may include weekly payments, medical expenses and, if you are permanently injured, a lump sum payment.

Why Stringer Clark's local expertise matters

Have you suffered a serious injury? We come to you.

In the case of serious injury, it is often nearly impossible and certainly inconvenient to require a client to attend the lawyer's office. Which is why, if you are seriously injured, we will come to you. At home or in hospital.

Quicker appointment times

Our lawyers are locals, which means they spend more time at the office and not on the road from Melbourne. This means you benefit from quicker appointment times and a lot more flexibility should you need to re-schedule.

The best local medical specialists

If medical reports are required to properly evaluate your condition, we know the leading local doctors and specialists who we deal with every day. You benefit from having excellent medical advice close to home, reducing the need for long travel times to Melbourne which can be both costly and inconvenient.

Western Victoria also now has a number of rehabilitation centres, including for example the Indoor Leisure and Aquatic Centre in Hamilton, and Aquazone in Warrnambool. The installation of an MRI machine in Warrnambool also means that clients no longer have to travel to Ballarat, Geelong or Melbourne for this scanning.

However, if you are required to go to Melbourne to attend doctors' appointments, remember to you obtain receipts for meals (the insurer will currently pay a maximum of $15.90), kilometres travelled and parking and other expenses so that these costs can be recovered from the insurer.

WorkSafe benefits can be significant

To obtain any benefit, you must know your rights under the WorkCover system. At Stringer Clark, we can inform you about those rights. Having a good lawyer can also make lodging a WorkSafe claim a relatively quick and inexpensive task. If you think you have a legitimate WorkSafe claim, contact us today. We are happy to offer you a free, no obligation, initial consultation as part of the Stringer Clark service.

If you've been injured at work – the 4 must do steps

1. Tell your employer

Don't hide an injury or delay in reporting it.

Tell your boss. Your employer is required by law to keep a Register of Injuries. Make sure your injury is recorded.

2. Lodge a WorkSafe claim form

Lodge a WorkSafe claim form immediately. Your employer must give you a claim form on request. Fill out your injury details. Your boss must then fill out and sign a portion of the claim form and send it to your employer's insurer. It is a good idea to tell your union delegate because they can make sure the paperwork is done properly.

3. See your own doctor

Make an appointment to see your own doctor for treatment as soon as possible. It is important it is your doctor, because they know you and will put your interests first. You are entitled to be treated by the doctor of your choice.

4. Call or visit us

It always pays to get legal advice. We are injury experts. Our first appointment is free. Come and see us, even if you simply wish to check you've followed the right steps, or you need advice on what medical or other expenses you may claim.

We can also advise you if you have a claim for lump sum compensation, either through WorkSafe or through the Courts.

Important: If you don't report your injury within 30 days, you may not be covered.

The WorkSafe scheme at a glance

There are basically two types of compensation:

1. The No Fault type of claim

Administered directly by WorkSafe according to a set schedule of benefits, and

2. The Common Law claim

Made through the Courts and available where the injury is serious and caused by the fault of the employer or a third party.

WorkSafe benefit types

Weekly payments and medical expenses are paid regardless.

Common Law lump sums are typically much larger payments.

What are the basic benefits?

Medical expenses

All types of medical expenses may be claimed if it helps you get back to work. That's the point of WorkSafe. This includes physio, chiro, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy.

The employer is required to help you design a rehabilitation and return to work plan, with a choice of rehab centre.

Rehabilitation expenses may include home help, modifications to your home or car, and gardening.

Weekly benefits

Weekly payments can be made for up to 75% of your (pre-injury) earnings for:

Up to 104 weeks if injured before 01/01/05
Up to 130 weeks if injured on or after 01/01/05

If you are permanently disabled in some capacity, you may continue to claim a payment, and even a lump sum.

Payments are made to people working at least 15 hours a week.

No fault lump sums through WorkSafe

WorkSafe can award lump sum compensation payments, also known as impairment benefits, for permanent significant injury. These are part of the scheme of benefits that WorkSafe manages.

The criteria for entitlement to a lump sum claim are tough and WorkSafe can reject claims.

The best rule if you are considering making a lump sum claim is therefore to get legal advice.

As a general rule, you must have suffered at least a 5% physical impairment as assessed by WorkSafe, or a 30% psychiatric impairment.

Here's a rough guide:

5% impairment: $10,760
15% impairment: $32,348
20% impairment: $44,745
25% impairment: $57,143
30% psychiatric impairment: $69,540

Entitlement to a lump sum does not affect your weekly payments or other expenses.

Nor does it stop you pursing a Common Law damages claim.

Common law at fault claims

Under some circumstances, where the injury is severe or there is obvious employer or third party negligence, your claim for compensation can be contested in the common law Courts.

These are called Common Law claims and typically they result in much larger payouts than the no-fault lump sums regulated by WorkSafe.

If it is our opinion that you have a Common Law claim, we will advise you of that. In the end, it is your decision. But as we only receive a fee payment if you win under our "No win, no fee OR Expenses" policy, it's in our interest to get it right.

How big a payout? A rough guide

Note: these amounts are awarded for pain and suffering. Additional lump sums are often obtained for loss of earnings.

Spinal Cord damage consisting of immobility in affected area (e.g. upper or lower limb): $250,000 – to the maximum of $511,920

Back (surgery)

Spinal fusion surgery: Good surgical result: $150,000 – $250,000
Poor surgical result: $250,000 - to the maximum of $511,920
Discectomy surgery: Good surgical result: $100,000 – $150,000
Poor surgical result: $150,000 - to the maxiumum of $511,920
Laminectomy surgery: Good surgical result: $100,000 – $200,000
Poor surgical result: $200,000 - to the maximum of $511,920
Foraminectomy surgery: Good surgical result: $150,000 – $200,000
Poor surgical result: $200,000 – to the maximum of $511,920

Common back conditions

Non-surgical back injury e.g. minor disc bulge or prolapse, with no nerve root impingement:

$100,000 – $200,000

Spinal Stenosis:

$100,000 – $300,000
Spondylolysis: $100,000 – $300,000
Spondylotic Myelopathy: $250,000 – to the maximum of $511,920

Neck (surgery)

Cervical fusion: Good surgical result: $150,000 – $250,000
Poor surgical result: $275,000 – to the maximum of $511,920
Non-surgical neck injury e.g. minor disc bulge or prolapse, with no nerve root impingement: $100,000 – $200,000

Other conditions

Mesothelioma: $250,000 - $400,000
Other respiratory conditions: $80,000 – $400,000
Loss of sight in one eye: $175,000 – $250,000
Psychiatric injury: $100,000 – $200,000
Head injury: $150,000 – $400,000
Shoulder injury: $75,000 – $300,000
Knee injury: $75,000
Paraplegia: Likely to be the maximum of $511,920
Quadraplegia: Likely to be the maximum of $511,920

Useful links:

WorkSafe – making a claim

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