WorkCover Cuts Hurt Workers
Many people injured at work who have been receiving ongoing medical payments through WorkCover have recently been shocked to receive notices saying it will end on 31 December.
The changes are part of harsh changes to the WorkCover legislation brought in by the NSW government that are starting to bite.
Only those who have catastrophic or extremely severe injuries will continue to get their ongoing medical bills paid under Workcover. This could include people who have lost a limb or have severe spinal injuries.
Entitlements are based on impairment percentages which themselves are somewhat confusing. Those under the 30 per cent threshold will have to undergo work capacity assessments. These are determined by the insurer. The right of appeal to the Compensation Commission is now gone and the workers legal costs in respect to work capacity matters are no longer covered.
The government last week announced a $309 million surplus for the WorkCover scheme, hailing it a great result for employers and jobs.
“This is at the expense of the injured workers who are being hit hard by these cruel changes to WorkCover,” said Kieran Fraser, president of the Injured Persons Association.
“The insurance companies now call the shots as they decide whether a worker is injured enough to receive payments. If they cut payments to injured workers then of course their profits will go up.”
A review of WorkCover is proposed for 2014, and Mr Fraser urged injured workers and their families to join the IPA in pressing the government to modify the changes.
Mr Fraser said injured workers were now fearful of losing their finances as well as having their lives ruined by their work accident.
“A doctor told a woman who needs an operation to reduce pain that she might have to do without the procedure as insurance will no longer pay for her ongoing care,” Mr Fraser said.
“People who have prosthetic limbs won’t be able to replace them when necessary. All entitlements to medical expenses are being cut off after 12 months from the date weekly payments cease.”
This comes on top of abolishing lump sum compensation for impairment unless the victim’s impairment is greater than 10 per cent. This includes industrial deafness, most back injuries and even shoulder reconstructions. Compensation for pain and suffering has been abolished.
However other legal avenues may exist for an injured worker to pursue compensation or damages for their injuries. It would be wise for people injured at work to seek advice from a specialist lawyer experienced in the field.