Published: 20 November 2012
Author: Peter Claven
So, you've decided to pursue a Common Law claim: A primer for the injured worker.
You've been injured at work and successfully lodged a WorkCover claim.
You are getting weekly payments from WorkCover which have helped pay your rent or mortgage and the bills while you've been unable to work.
You've been seeing doctors regularly and may even have had surgery. Thankfully, WorkCover has been paying your medical expenses. You may also have been successful in obtaining an impairment claim lump sum.
You then decide to "cross the fault line" and pursue a Common Law claim for damages. (Our earlier blog explains the difference between an impairment claim and a Common Law Claim.)
You may be concerned about what to expect.
Here's the heads up, at least when you are supported by Ryan Carlisle Thomas.
Medical treatment - no change
You needn't worry about having your medical treatment tampered with, whether you are successful in your Common Law claim or not. For the costs associated with your medical treatment, there is usually no change.
Weekly payments - no change, unless you win
If you are on weekly payments, generally speaking, these will continue unaffected while you pursue your claim. They may stop if you win your Common Law claim but the lump sum you receive usually compensates for this.
Expect more medical assessments
You will likely be required to attend medical assessments arranged by your lawyer or by WorkCover's lawyer. The doctor will be reviewing previous medical assessments and reassessing your condition in light of your new Common Law claim. However, the process will be similar to what you underwent in the assessment of your impairment claim.
Telling your story - tell it like it is
We will want to spend some time getting to know your story from you in detail. In your own words. The purpose of this is to understand exactly how your injury has limited or affected your life and the lives of your family and friends: what you now can't do or are having trouble with. Have you given up golf? Is pain interrupting your sleep? Are you struggling to get through the day without taking painkillers?
Your story will be cast as a statement by you, painting a before-and-after picture of your life. This really is your opportunity to tell it like it is, making it clear what you are going through.
Fees and costs update
We will discuss legal costs with you at certain intervals during the life of your claim, giving you an estimate of the range of your legal costs.
It's possible you'll never go to court. If you do, don't sweat it.
Contrary to what many people believe, not all cases go to court. Many are settled beforehand. If you don't go to court, you may be required to attend a settlement conference with us and the WorkCover lawyers.
If your case does go to court, it may not be as stressful as you might have pictured in your mind. Not all cases involve a jury. In fact, many don't. And rarely are cases written up in the newspaper or televised on the news.
Should your case go to court, don't worry. We will be 100% on your side. We will spend time discussing the process with you and what you can expect before, during and after the court case. If your case actually does get heard in court, it is still possible that the matter will settle during the running of the case.
If your case runs all the way to judgement, you may get a decision on the day the court case ends, several months afterwards, or anywhere in between.