Once a worker has an accepted WorkCover Queensland claim, this is often referred to as a “statutory claim.” This is when a worker receives a number of benefits from WorkCover which can include weekly income benefits, medical expenses, travel expenses and assistance with return to work.
At the start of a statutory claim, many injured workers want to know what their separate common law entitlements might be. It is important to seek this legal advice early on in a statutory claim as the content of the conversations and medical reports in the statutory claim often have a big impact in the common law claim.
There are a number of practical matters injured workers should bear in mind throughout the course of their statutory claim with WorkCover Queensland. This includes:
1. All conversations with a WorkCover claims assessor are documented. It is important claimants are aware of this as the content of their conversations will then be read by WorkCover’s solicitors should you elect to bring a common law claim. It is important that such conversations with WorkCover are limited to discussions about ongoing entitlements, medical treatment and rehabilitation.
2. Consistent reporting of the accident and the injury is crucial. Each time a claimant sees a doctor for their claim, the doctor will often question how the accident occurred and then summarise this in their report. Discrepancies in reporting can cause complications in a common law claim, particularly with respect to proving liability on the part of the employer.
Therefore it is important that a claimant’s description of the accident and particulars such as task allocated, weight lifted and directions from the employer are consistent in all discussions with doctors.
3. A statutory claim is a short end claim. It is important that claimants are aware they will not receive weekly benefits from WorkCover indefinitely. Once an injury is deemed stable and stationary (reached maximum medical improvement), their benefits will come to an end. Many claimants find they are still totally or partially incapacitated for work at the conclusion of their statutory claim and they feel unprepared for what lies ahead.
Accordingly it is important to obtain advice in relation to common law entitlements at an early stage to ensure claimants are prepared for this stage of the claim and have information about other benefits that may be available to them such as insurances through their superannuation fund.
4. Throughout the course of a statutory claim, WorkCover may send a claimant to an independent medical examination. This can at times result in WorkCover cutting off benefits or refusing to fund certain treatment and particularly if the independent specialist is attempting to blame the incapacity on a pre-existing condition. Accordingly, it is important to have a solicitor assisting with the statutory claim to ensure qualified legal advice is provided when such decisions are made by WorkCover.
With all of the above considerations to bear in mind, it is important that a claimant seeks legal advice as soon as possible following a workplace injury. This will ensure they are fully aware of their rights and entitlements, together with what they need to know if they are considering a common law claim.
A lot of workers’ feel hesitant to make a decision on whether they wish to pursue a common law claim in the early days of their statutory claim. It is still important to seek legal advice early on in case a common law claim is pursued later.
It can also often relieve some stress and anxiety to know exactly what will be involved with both their statutory and common law claim from the outset and discuss the potential outcomes. This helps with forward planning and ensures that a potential common law claim is started with the strongest foot forward and without delay.
vbr Lawyers can provide an obligation free consultation with respect to workers’ compensation entitlements.
This blog was written by Beth De Laurence, Associate
Phone: 5593 2122 or Toll Free 1800 316 716
This blog was edited by Sean Ryan, Legal Practitioner Director
Phone: 07 5593 2122 or Toll Free 1800 316 716