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Michael Burdess

Published: 05 March 2013
Author: Michael Burdess and Peter Claven

WorkCover, TAC claims and you. Part 2

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.

I've heard that my lawyer can't do conciliation conferences. Is this true?

With the permission of the employer or insurance agent, a worker is allowed a legal representative to attend at a conciliation conference on their behalf.

If your lawyer is not attending your conciliation conferences or is not organizing appropriate assistance through WorkCover Assist or Union Assist then you should be asking yourself how interested your lawyer is in your case and whether they are just interested in obtaining lump sum compensation.

I've been talking to other people with similar injuries to get a sense of how much I may be entitled to. But they differ a lot. Why?

Each case is different and the fact that you have a similar or identical injury to another person does not mean that you are entitled to the same amount of compensation. Two people could lose their right index finger in a workplace accident. The common law (lump sum) entitlements that each of these people may have could vary greatly depending upon their age, circumstances of the accident, ability to work in the future, their interests outside of work and their willingness to pursue the matter to Court.

I'm afraid that my employer will go broke if I lodge a claim.

This could not be further from the truth.

The employer has certain obligations to meet when a claim is made but the majority of any payment must come from the WorkCover insurer. As a general rule, the employer must pay a small amount in medical expenses and the first two weeks of leave if you require time off work after the injury. At this point the insurer steps in and pays any additional expenses. The employer's premium will also increase marginally but this should not be of concern to you.

My boss reckons it is better to have my injury kept "off the books" and he's offered to pay my medical expenses. Should I accept his offer?

No. Not now. Not ever.

We see may people that have had their boss offer to pay the medical expenses on their behalf instead of putting a WorkCover claim in. This is a very bad idea.

Any delay in lodging a claim for WorkCover can make it more difficult to have your claim accepted. It also means that there is no record of medical treatment held by the WorkCover insurer. The main issue though is if you start off requiring something relatively inexpensive such as physiotherapy or hydrotherapy treatment but after a time it becomes apparent that you require surgery. This is when we most often see injured people come through the door.

Employers are sometimes happy to pay the physiotherapy bills but when it comes to paying for surgery, they baulk.

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