We receive a lot of questions from clients about both their statutory WorkCover Queensland claims and their common law entitlements.
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions together with answers which we hope may assist.
When should I seek legal advice?
As early in the claim as possible. There are many reasons that we recommend seeking legal advice early. One of the most important reasons is that claimants should seek advice regarding any relevant limitation dates with respect to their workers compensation entitlements.
It is important that claimants do not delay in obtaining this advice as it could see a limitation date expiring and entitlements not being protected.
It is also important for a claimant to fully understand the claims process and what is likely to happen so they can make fully informed decisions throughout the course of the claim.
What happens if I accept a Notice of Assessment?
The acceptance of a Notice of Assessment is an irrevocable election.
If a claimant has been assessed as suffering from less than a 20% degree of permanent impairment, they cannot accept the Notice of Assessment and bring a common law claim.
In this scenario, if a Notice of Assessment is accepted, it is not possible for a claimant to re-open their claim or seek common law entitlements.
It is strongly recommended that all claimants seek independent legal advice before making a decision with respect to a Notice of Assessment.
What if I am unsure about whether I want to bring a common law claim?
We provide obligation free legal advice to many claimants who are still in the midst of their statutory claim with WorkCover Queensland. During the course of this claim, it is important that the main focus is on the rehabilitation process for the claimant. Many people do not want to be in a position where they are feeling pressured about whether they will be pursuing their common law entitlements at that point in time.
A claimant should never feel pressured to make such a big decision about their common law claim during the statutory claims process, unless there is an impending limitation date that is about to expire and requires protection.
Our office frequently offers to investigate WorkCover claims on an obligation free basis and assist workers throughout the statutory claims process without any obligation to commit to a common law claim.
What should I do if WorkCover makes a decision about my claim?
It is important that claimants seek immediate legal advice regarding any formal decisions made by WorkCover Queensland. Any decision made by WorkCover during a statutory claim whereby a formal reasons for decision letter is issued, requires such a decision to be appealed with the Workers Compensation Regulator within 3 months of the decision or entitlements are lost.
Should a worker appeal a decision with WorkCover and it be rejected by the Regulator, an appeal must be lodged with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission within 20 business days of that decision.
Therefore, it is important to seek legal advice immediately following any decisions made by WorkCover or the Regulator.
My employer cannot provide me with suitable duties. What is going to happen?
If a claimant’s treating doctors have certified a claimant as fit to return to light, alternative duties and their employer cannot accommodate this, WorkCover will normally arrange for them to participate in Host employment.
It is very important that whilst undertaking light, suitable duties, whether it be with the employer or a Host employer, that workers are not being forced to undertake tasks that fall outside of the pre-approved duties. It is important to ensure that there is no risk of re-injury or aggravation to the injuries.
Are there any other benefits I can receive while I am on WorkCover?
There may be additional entitlements to compensation by way of insured benefits through superannuation funds. It is always worthwhile seeking obligation free legal advice about what additional entitlements a claimant may be eligible to claim.
Many people have Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) insurance through their superannuation fund. Depending on the severity of the injury, claimants may be eligible to lodge a TPD claim in addition to their workers’ compensation entitlements.
How long does a common law claim take to resolve?
Generally speaking, once a Notice of Assessment is issued by WorkCover, a claimant then has an entitlement to bring a common law claim. A solicitor will draft a Notice of Claim for Damages which is a detailed document outlining the entirety of the common law claim.
Once the Notice of Claim for Damages is served on WorkCover Queensland and to the employer, WorkCover have 14 days to provide a formal response.
Once the Notice of Claim for Damages is deemed compliant by WorkCover, WorkCover then have 6 months to investigate their position with respect to liability.
Once a liability decision is issued by WorkCover, a matter should proceed to a Compulsory Conference within 3 months of such a decision being made.
Sometimes, a matter can proceed to a Compulsory Conference in a shorter timeframe, depending on the circumstances of the claim.
It is important to choose to a solicitor that takes a proactive approach to file management to ensure that any common law claim is progressed in a timely manner whilst also maximising entitlements.
This blog was written by Beth De Laurence, Senior Associate
Phone: 5593 2122 or Toll Free 1800 316 716
This blog was approved by Sean Ryan, Legal Practitioner Director
Phone: 07 5593 2122 or Toll Free 1800 316 716