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Michael Burdess

Published: 19 March 2013
Author: Michael Burdess and Peter Claven

WorkCover, TAC claims and you. Part 3

Our firm has helped nearly 70,000 claims on behalf of WorkCover and TAC clients. There aren't too many questions that we haven't heard, and answered, before.

In this series of blogs, injury experts Peter Claven and Michael Burdess tackle some of the misconceptions.

Will my claim stop when I return to work.

Getting back to work can be one of the best things for an injured person, as long as it is done in the right way. However, many people are under the misapprehension that when they return to work their entitlements automatically stop. This could not be further from the truth. Your entitlement to medical and like expenses does not stop simply because you have returned to work. In many cases, an entitlement to weekly payments does not stop when you return to work if you have not returned to work at your pre-injury hours. The WorkCover insurers like to talk about "full clearance certificates". This is not a legal term and is not found in the Accident Compensation Act, which is the legislation covering workplace injury.

Just because you have been cleared to return to your old duties and old hours does not mean that your claim is at an end.

I'm worried I'll be sacked if I lodge a WorkCover claim. What should I do?

It is illegal for an employer to treat you differently, let alone sack you, because you have lodged a WorkCover claim. There are protections within the WorkCover legislation as well as the Fair Work Act to protect you from a dismissal or other adverse action from your employer should you lodge a WorkCover claim.

If you are ever threatened with dismissal by a supervisor or employer for lodging a WorkCover claim you, should be reporting the matter to your lawyer or the Victorian WorkCover Authority immediately.

I'm worried because I appeared to recover from my arm injury and went back to work. But now it has flared up again. Can I lodge a new WorkCover claim? Do I have to?

This is an issue that we deal with again and again. People are injured at work, have some time off and have medical treatment and then return to work. Six months or a year later they have increasing pain in the same place where the original injury occurred. Often the WorkCover insurer will tell you that a new claim must be lodged. This is not always accurate advice and you should contact a lawyer so you are fully informed of your options. In some cases a new claim may need to be lodged and in other cases it may be that your benefits continue to be paid under the original claim.

I probably should go on WorkCover but I don't want to sue my boss. What can I do?

Lodging a WorkCover claim does not automatically mean that you are going to Court or that you are suing your employer.

There is no requirement that an employer or anyone else must have acted unreasonably or breached their duty of care for a worker to have a WorkCover claim accepted. In the vast majority of cases the only test that is that the injury occurred at work or during some work related activity. This in itself triggers an entitlement to medical and like expenses and if necessary weekly payments. It may also trigger an entitlement to a lump sum depending upon the extent of the injury.

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