What is Workers Compensation?
Workers compensation is payment that a worker receives from WorkCover Queensland (the state government-owned insurance agency) as compensation for an injury or illness which is a result of their work. The Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 sets out the rules and regulations which govern compensation claims.
Workers compensation falls into two distinct categories:
- Statutory compensation (often called workers comp): WorkCover pays for your medical expenses and helps cover wages for a limited period while you cannot work. Every worker who has been injured at work is entitled to this compensation, even if they were to blame for the incident which caused their injury– it is a “no fault” scheme.
- Common law compensation (claim for damages): if your employer (or another worker) in some way contributed to the incident that injured you at work, you can sue for damages to cover all losses sustained as a result of the work injury. This can include thing like loss of past and future earnings and superannuation, past and future medical expenses, medical aids, and care and assistance costs.
It is important to understand the difference between making a claim to WorkCover for statutory benefits, and making a common law claim. The statutory benefits claim is accepted by WorkCover as a matter of course, except in very exceptional circumstances, whereas a claim for damages is usually disputed by the employer and/or WorkCover.
I was injured at work, travelling to or from work, or in connection with my work - Do I have a Claim?
Even if you are at fault, if you have been injured at work, travelling to or from work, or in any way connected with your work - you have the right to claim statutory compensation through WorkCover’s no-fault scheme. This will cover your medical expenses and help cover lost wages for a limited period while you cannot work because of your injuries.
In many cases, if you can show that your employer (or another employee) was responsible for the incident that caused your work injury, you may also be able to make a common law claim for damages.
Have you been offered a settlement? Get advice immediately
If you were injured in a work incident and you have been offered compensation or a settlement by your employer, it’s probably because they accept responsibility for the incident.
It can be tempting to accept such offers and avoid the stress and complication of lawyers and drawn-out processes to get other compensation.
There are a few things to be aware of:
- An offer of compensation will almost always carry with it a requirement to release or discharge the party who is paying the compensation. That is, you waive your rights to seek any other compensation against that party relating to that incident; and
- The compensation you’re offered may be considerably less than you are entitled to receive through other compensation claims processes.
We strongly encourage all clients to seek urgent legal advice prior to accepting any offer.