An injury in the workplace can happen in a number of different ways, as set out below.
- Unreasonably heavy lifting, for example, lifting of heavy materials that commonly occurs in industries such as steel fixing and scaffolding
- Lifting while in an awkward posture, for example when working in a confined area
- Repetitive work, for example, working on a production line
- Carelessness of another worker, for example a forklift driver who accidentally collides with a co-worker in the workplace
- Being subjected to bullying and harassment in the workplace, for example, being repeatedly ridiculed and made fun of by your manager in front of other staff, in circumstances where your employer is aware that your mental health is being affected
- Being overworked, for example, working excessive hours on a prolonged basis with unreasonable deadlines in circumstances where your employer is aware that your mental health is being affected
Injuries at work can result being restricted to work suitable duties, a reduction of your hours of employment or being unable to work at all. A reduction or loss of income together with ongoing medical bills to pay can have a financially crippling effect on you and your family. This can often lead to psychological injury such as anxiety or depression.
If you have suffered a workplace injury in Queensland, you are entitled to lodge two types of WorkCover claims: a statutory claim and a common law claim.
Statutory claim for workers compensation (“no fault” claim)
A statutory claim or “no fault” claim is the first type of claim that you are entitled to lodge if you wish to seek workers compensation for your injuries. You do not need to prove that your injuries were caused by the fault of another party to have an accepted statutory claim.
Once your statutory claim has been accepted, you are entitled to receive statutory compensation as follows.
- Weekly payments for periods of time off work or working suitable duties
- Payment of reasonable hospital and medical expenses
- Lump sum compensation for permanent impairment
The lump sum offer is made by WorkCover or the self-insurer at the end of the statutory claim once your injury has stabilised. The amount of the offer is based on the percentage at which your injury has been assessed and does not take into account any future financial losses you are likely to suffer as a result of your injury.
It is important that you seek legal advice before accepting the lump sum offer that is made to you, because you may have grounds for lodging a common law claim for negligence against your employer. A common law claim can only be made if you have not accepted the lump sum offer made to you by WorkCover or the self-insurer.
Common law claim for workers compensation (claim for negligence)
In order to be entitled to common law damages, you need to prove that your injury was caused by the negligence (ie fault) of your employer, which includes the negligence of a co-worker.
If you are able to establish negligence, the compensation that you are entitled to claim is usually far greater than the lump sum offer made to you in the statutory claim.
In the vast majority of Queensland workers compensation claims, a common law claim for damages is recommended, because it allows you to claim a number of different types of damages that are not available to you in a statutory claim, including the full amount of your past loss of earnings, future loss of earnings, loss of past and future superannuation entitlements and future medical treatment expenses.
If you have suffered injury which you believe has been caused by the fault of another party, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injury on the basis of negligence.
Even if you cannot prove fault on the part of another party, you may be entitled to make a claim for total and permanent disability, which is made against your superannuation fund.