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Frequently Asked Questions: Workers Compensation in Australia

Workers compensation exists to cover employees that are impacted by an injury that occurs in the workplace. Compulsory in every Australian state, this monetary payout covers all types of workers, whether they’re employed on a full-time, part-time, casual or apprenticeship basis.

By law, your employer must have workers compensation to cover everyone that works for them, so, if something does go wrong, the injured party may be entitled to receive weekly benefits and payouts for medical and rehabilitation expenses.

We find a fair amount of confusion amongst our clients when it comes to understanding workers compensation, so we’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions to clear up the way it works.

How does workers compensation work?

Under the Safe Work Australia Act 2008, all employers have a duty of care towards their staff. They must provide a fair amount of compensation to cover all injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

Workers compensation is calculated differently depending on the state you reside in. In Victoria, private insurers work in tandem with government authorities to administer the compensation, which is calculated on factors such as the employee’s wage and industry-related risks.

Employers have their own risk profile built on information like previous compensation claims and the level of hazards in that particular industry. Using this profile, insurers can set a premium rate which varies based on how high-risk or low-risk the job is.

Am I eligible for workers compensation?

You might be entitled to claim workers compensation if you have suffered from an injury or illness at work, that occurred due to a one-off or ongoing activity necessary to carry out your role. Covered injuries include both the physical and psychological, such as ongoing stress on the body, back problems, trips and slips, cancer, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

No matter what basis you work for your employer – including if you’re a sub-contractor – you  should be covered. The compensation is intended to cover you financially while you’re unable to work.

How can I make a workers compensation claim?

There are a few steps you need to take if you contract an illness or suffer an injury and can prove that your job role was the largest contributing factor. The first things to do include:

  1. Notify your employer of the injury, either verbally or in writing, so it can be officially recorded.
  2. Ensure your employer passes this information onto their insurer within 48 hours.
  3. Visit a doctor to apply for a WorkCover certificate of capacity. Either yourself or your employer should then send this to the insurer within 7 days, so the claim can be assessed.
  4. The insurer can then accept or dispute the claim and advise you of any compensation you’re entitled to. They calculate all payouts based on how long you’re expected to be unable to work and how serious your injury is.
  5. If you can prove your injury was caused by the negligence of your employer, you could also file for a common law negligence claim.

What is the time limit for workers compensation claims?

With all insurance claims, it’s best to act fast. In Victoria, you need to lodge your claim within 6 months of the date of injury for your claim to be valid. Where there is reasonable cause, this time frame can be extended to 3 years. Reasonable causes include the individual being absent from the state or not being aware of their injury or illness until some time after.

If the claim is related to a death or very serious injury, it may be valid beyond the 3-year cut-off point.

Are there limits on workers compensation payouts?

When lodging a workers compensation claim, you’ll probably be wondering how much you’re entitled to. Benefits are usually made up of weekly payments to support the individual while they’re unable to work, but could also consist of lump sums for any permanent impairments. In Victoria, this lump sum can reach a maximum of $578,760 after indexation.

Payments are calculated based on your earnings before the incident, and the maximum weekly payout is capped every six weeks.

Can you claim workers compensation after the retirement age?

There is a common misconception that workers are no longer entitled to claim workers compensation once they pass retirement age. This isn’t true; all employees, even those over the age of 65, can claim for workplace injuries and illnesses.

Workers compensation schemes are divided into short-tail and long-tail. Long-tail schemes’ payments are subject to ongoing reviews of the individual’s ability to work, but pays for the duration of their incapacity. Short-tail schemes have a limit on payment amounts or time periods, but this doesn’t eliminate over-65’s from receiving payments.

If you have any further questions relating to filing a workers compensation claim, speak to the specialists at u-Law. Call 0416 415 117 or send an enquiry via our website. We can help you get the maximum benefits you’re entitled to.

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