How Long Can You Stay On Workers Compensation In Australia?

Workers' compensation insurance schemes are in place in Australia to protect all working individuals against unforeseen circumstances when injured workers or those that become ill in the workplace require time and compensation to allow their healing.

Each state and territory has it’s own governing body which looks after the workers compensation legislation for making and accepting a workers compensation claim. There is also a Federal Workers' Compensation scheme that applies to some workers. In Queensland, if you need to make a workers' compensation claim you will generally deal with WorkCover Queensland. Alternatively, your employer may be self-insured.

There are strict timeframes and steps you must follow to ensure that a claim for your work related injury is accepted and you are awarded the compensation you need to get back on your feet again, ultimately getting back to work as soon as you are well enough to do so.

Workers' compensation claims have strict time limits for when you have to make a viable claim. You must make your statutory claim within six months of the date you sustained your work related injuries, incident or illness or when your doctor first links your injuries to your work. However, if you miss this six month time frame you may still be entitled to a Common Law claim as long as to take the necessary steps within 3 years. If these timeframes are nearing and you haven’t yet made a claim, it is best to get in touch with our team of experienced workers' compensation lawyers to discuss your options and viability of a claim.

Talk with an experienced workers comp lawyer to learn more.

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How Long Do Workers Compensation Payments Last?

How long your workers' compensation benefits lasts, depends on the severity of your injury and your recovery. However, there are some limits that apply to all claims in Queensland. Under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, payments can last up to and including five years.

Your weekly payments from WorkCover will stop for the following reasons:

When You Return to Work
Payments stop once you are able to return to work full-time and are cleared to return to your normal duties
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After 5 Years
If you have been unable to return to work at all, weekly payments will stop after 5 years; or
When You Reach The Maximum Total Weekly Compensation Limit
Once you have received the maximum amount of compensation you cannot get further compensation for the same injury or injuries arising from the same incident;
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When Your Injuries are Considered Stable and Stationary or Have Reached Maximum Medical Improvement.
Once your injury has settled and treatment is unlikely to make a difference to your current restrictions or limitations and you have been assessed for permanent impairment;
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A Breakdown of How Weekly Payments Work
Once an injured worker has their application for compensation accepted through WorkCover Queensland or the self insurer, weekly compensation payments in lieu of the usual wage will commence. These payments are very complex in their nature, as such, the following breakdown should only be used as a guide, speaking with one of our experienced workers' compensation lawyers will give you a clearer understanding of what you may be paid.

The weekly compensation payable, under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, for injuries sustained after 1 January 2008 is as follows:

-85% of the worker’s normal weekly earnings for the first 26 weeks, and then
- 75% of the worker’s normal weekly earnings between 26 weeks and five years.

If unfit for work after two years, any ongoing weekly compensation will depend on the likely degree of impairment.
Your first weeks' compensation may come directly from your employer. This acts as their insurance excess for your claim. After that, WorkCover Queensland or the self-insurer may pay your weekly benefit straight into your bank account on a weekly basis. The amount received from WorkCover Queensland or the self insurer will be a net weekly amount. Sometimes, WorkCover Queensland will pay your employer and you will still continue to receive your wage as normal.
A Breakdown Of How Medical Treatment And Expenses Work
When you claim for workers' compensation you are also able to claim for medical treatment expenses. Once your claim is accepted, WorkCover Queensland or the insurer will also pay your injury-related medical and rehabilitation medical expenses as long as they are considered reasonable and medically necessary. Medical expenses that you may claim for include:
- Treatment by a registered medical or allied health practitioner (doctor, physiotherapist, dentist, etc.)
- Any medical items that are needed as you recover, like dressings and medicines
- Hire of equipment like crutches and wheelchairs
- Return to work services that support your recovery
- Travel expenses related to your treatment.
Just keep in mind that WorkCover Queensland or the self-insurer will only pay up to the listed set fee amounts. If your medical practitioner charges you more over the set fee amount then you will have larger out of pocket expenses that are not covered by WorkCover Queensland or the self-insurer.
WorkCover Queensland or the self-insurer will not cover any treatments by non-registered practitioners. Treatments not covered include most alternative medicine treatments like massage and acupuncture (unless they are provided by someone like a doctor or physiotherapist).

Other treatment, rehabilitation or costs related to your claim which may be funded include:

- Travel to: (travel and other costs must be considered ‘necessary and reasonable’ and be pre-approved by WorkCover.)
-Medical and rehabilitation treatment
- Medical Assessment Tribunal appointments
- Independent medical examination appointments.
- Parking
- Chemist costs, such as medication.

You should note that there are limits to what you can claim.
What Happens After The Time Limit For Workers Compensation Payments Ends?
Your weekly compensation payments will stop when the first of the following happens:

- You go back to work and cleared for normal duties
- You are assessed for permanent impairment and receive a lump-sum offer
- You have received weekly payments for five years
- Your total weekly compensation reaches the maximum amount payable.

If however, after all treatment and rehabilitation options have been exhausted and you are no longer able to work, WorkCover Queensland or the self-insurer will issue you a Notice of Assessment. The Notice sets out your work injuries and will record a percentage impairment for each injury. The Notice will also allocate a value against your impairment, this is what is used to calculate your Statutory Lump Sum Offer. You may receive a Notice of Assessment for your physical injuries and one for your psychological injuries.

If your total impairment for a Notice of Assessment is equal to or more than 20%, then you may elect to accept the Statutory Offer contained in your Notice of Assessment (with respect to the injuries assessed as 20% or more), and you can then also bring a Common Law claim for damages for your work injuries. You can not combine the impairments for your physical and psychological injuries for the purposes of reaching this 20% threshold.

However, if your total DPI is less than 20%, then you cannot take the Statutory Offer and pursue a Common Law claim – you have to decide one way or the other, either taking the Lump Sum Offer, or pursue a Common Law Claim. If you take the Statutory Offer, then you lose any right to seek damages for your injuries from WorkCover Queensland or the self-insurer.
I Have Received A Notice of Assessment, What Should I Do?
It is very important that you speak to one of our experienced personal injury lawyers, they are best placed to understand what your legal rights are and what would be best for you by way of compensation for your injuries. It is important you do not respond right away to the Notice of Assessment or the Statutory Offer, a response may result in loss of all rights to claim significant compensation.

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Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim
If you suffer injuries while at work, you don't have to worry about the whole process of making your claim or the legal fees involved. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer free consultation services for injured workers looking to kickstart their claims. As mentioned before, we also have a no-win no fee, no catch policy.
Get in touch with us to give yourself the best opportunity to receive the maximum compensation possible for your claim.
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