When you become aware of a work-related injury, illness, or disease, it is important that you take action early. Doing so will help reduce the risk of further injury or illness and ensure you get the support you need to achieve a safe recovery.
Seek Medical Assistance
The first step is to seek medical assistance. This applies whether you have experienced a sudden illness or injury, or you suspect that you are experiencing the early symptoms of an oncoming illness or injury.
Seek first aid on your work premises, and let your employer or a suitable team member know about your ailments. Your employer and all relevant staff should provide the appropriate level of care and support to ensure you are safe and comfortable, without intervening in a disruptive manner.
If the work-related illness or injury is serious enough, request an ambulance.
Record the Incident
Following the medical incident, depending on the severity of the situation, your employer may be required to file an incident report.
The report should specify the date, time, and location of the incident, the type of injury or illness, what medical aid was given (if any), and any other relevant details.
Written notice of a serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident that exposed one or more workers to a serious risk of injury or illness, must be sent to the relevant WorkSafe body in your state or territory within 48 hours.
All Employers are Required by law to store Incident reports for a minimum of 5 years.
Complete a Work Capacity Certificate
If you will be temporarily unable to work due to the injury or illness, you will need to fill out a Work Capacity Certificate and provide a copy for your employer.
This is an official document that describes in detail the nature of the injury or illness, how it affects your ability to perform your regular work tasks, and the estimated time it will take to resume your regular work tasks (if such an outcome is even possible).
The initial certificate must be filled out by a qualified medical practitioner, and this applies to all follow-up certificates as well – you cannot fill out the certificate yourself.
Apply for Worker’s Compensation Insurance
All employers across every state and territory are required by law to have workers compensation.
This applies regardless of the type of employee they hire be it full-time, part-time, casual, or even subcontractors. Only under rare circumstances are employers considered to be exempt from this requirement.
The purpose of workers compensation is to provide financial aid to employees who have suffered from a work-related illness, injury, or disease.
Benefits are typically paid to injured workers in the form of weekly compensation, which is designed to cover most if not all expenses related to recovering from the injury or illness, such as:
- Medical and hospital expenses
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation services
- Loss of personal or work-related items – i.e. clothing, personal belongings, vehicles, or anything else
- Lump sum payments for permanent impairments caused by being injured at work
- Legal costs
To lodge a claim for workers compensation, you must have first completed a ‘Certificate of Capacity.’
You can then request a workers compensation claim form from your employer in order to start the application process. If your employer has not given you one, you can also request one from your doctor or the relevant WorkCover authority in your state or territory.
From there, complete the workers compensation claim form, attach your certificate of capacity to the form, and submit it to your employer. Be sure to keep a copy of the form and the certificate of capacity for safekeeping.
Once your employer has lodged the workers compensation claim form, the insurer will contact you to let you know if your claim has been accepted.
What to do if your Claim is Rejected
There are many reasons why a workers compensation claim may be rejected. The most common reasons why an insurer may reject a claim is because they:
- Do not deem the injury to have occurred in the workplace
- Believe the injury, illness, or disease was caused by a pre-existing medical condition
- Did not receive the workers compensation claim within the limited time period
- Believe the claimed expenses are unreasonable given the particular illness or injury
After receiving notice of a rejected claim, you have 60 days to apply for reconciliation and have the claim re-reviewed.
To avoid potential bias, the team that reviews the rejected claim is typically not the same team that gave the initial verdict. This helps ensure the review process is carried out in a fair and just manner.
When you should seek Independent Legal Advice
- If your employer does not have workers compensation
- If your employer is not cooperative following a work-related incident, or during the workers compensation claims process
- Your initial claim for workers compensation has been rejected
What a Workers Compensation Lawyer can do for you
Regardless of your circumstances, a workers compensation lawyer can assist with your case.
First, they’ll take the time to understand the scope of the situation, including your particular injury or illness, the circumstances at which the incident took place, the response from your employer, and what stage you’re at with the claims process (if at all).
By doing this, a workers compensation lawyer can guide you through the application process, and give you a realistic idea of your chances of a successful outcome – including the kind of entitlements you can expect to receive.
If your claim has already been rejected, your lawyer can explain why this may have occurred, what the process is for reconciliation, and the kind of evidence you should provide to support your case.
Best of all? Most workers compensation lawyers operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, making it easy and affordable to seek the legal advice and support you need to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
Have you recently suffered a work-related injury or illness and you’re unsure what to do next? Contact McDonnel Schroder today to request a FREE case assessment.