When you’re injured at work, we know your thoughts run at a million miles an hour. How am I going to pay my bills? What if I’m never able to work again? Am I going to lose my house? Can I get fired?
The good news is, there are processes in place to help you, such as workers accident insurance schemes like WorkCover.
Although the schemes are supposed to be easy to navigate for injured workers, we know that’s not always the case. Between the jargon, strict timelines and special requirements, unfortunately it’s too common that useful information doesn’t make it to you.
We’ve pulled together a list of five things to know about WorkCover.
1. WorkCover is an insurer for any work-related accidents
It’s a “no fault” policy which means you’re covered for any injury, no matter how it happened, as long as there’s a significant connection between your work and the injury.
Injuries can include:
- Back injuries
- Shoulder Injuries
- Muscle strains and tears
- Cancer (i.e. skin cancer from sun exposure)
- Dislocated joints
- Burns, chemical burns and electrocutions
- Deafness or hearing impairment
- Serious spinal or head injuries, including paralysations
Psychological injuries like anxiety, depression, or PTSD caused by workplace bullying, harassment or stress are also considered injuries and are covered.
And if it’s something that occurred over a period of time, a late onset injury, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, or even if a family member has died from a work-related injury or disease, you should be able to make a claim.
2. You can claim for more than just wages
While you won’t get paid your full salary from WorkCover, you will receive a portion when you’re not able to work.
But that’s not all; WorkCover also pays for medical bills like doctor’s appointments, medication, rehab services and household and personal assistance. It even covers taxi fares if you can’t drive.
That said, there is a total weekly compensation limit. Once you have been paid up to it, you’ll no longer be entitled to get any more money from them.
3. You can appeal a WorkCover decision
There are times when WorkCover might find there is insufficient proof you suffered an injury or say that it didn’t happen at work. In these cases, the insurance body can reject your claim.
Another reason they might deny your claim could be because the application wasn’t lodged on time. From the date of your diagnosis or the date of your injury, you have six months to submit a claim to WorkCover.
If that happens, you can and should appeal the decision. This is done through a special independent review process, which is entirely free – so you won’t be out of pocket. Read more on how to handle a WorkCover rejection here.
4. You can submit your own WorkCover paperwork
A common mistake people make is thinking they can’t make a claim if their boss says no, or that it’ll cost their employer money.
In fact, making a WorkCover claim has nothing to do with your employer. You’re not asking them to pay out of their own pocket – it’s just like any other insurance policy that pays out when you need it.
Many workers are also often scared to submit a claim because they fear retaliation, like being fired. But your employer can’t use your injury to terminate your employment for at least 12 months. It’s an added layer of protection to prevent people from losing their jobs when recovering from work-related injuries. Read more about what to do if you're fired while on WorkCover here.
And your boss doesn’t have to agree with submitting a WorkCover claim, nor do you have to wait for them to do it. You can and should submit your own online via the WorkCover website, like our client Adrian did.
Just remember, there are strict time limits to reporting your injury and starting a compensation claim.
5. WorkCover payments may have a time limit
The length of time you receive WorkCover payments for depends on the severity of your injury and the type of claim you make.
Hopefully your injury recovers, and you can return to work, at which point your WorkCover payments will stop. But if your injury is serious and is deemed to be a permanent impairment, you may be offered a lump sum. If this happens, we recommend seeking legal advice as soon as possible.
Your payments will also stop if you haven’t been able to return to work after five years and your injury isn’t diagnosed as permanent.
If there’s more that you would like to know, visit Smith’s Lawyers FAQ’s here.