If you are reading this article then chances are you have already made a compensation claim to WorkCover for your work related injury, which has been accepted by WorkCover.
You would now be receiving your weekly wages and WorkCover is likely paying your medical bills.
If you have not yet made a claim for weekly compensation, you may wish to read our dedicated page on how to claim WorkCover compensation in Queensland.
In theory, WorkCover must continue to pay your weekly wages as well as your medical bills until you go back to work or until your injury becomes stable and stationary or until you reach the maximum payable compensation amount.
In practice, however, after about a year on workers compensation payments, in many instances WorkCover will start looking to close your claim. The reason for this is simple: they want to save money and so they want to cut off your payments.
The way in which WorkCover will try and close your matter is by sending you to an independent medical examination (“IME”). This is an examination carried out by a specialist who is paid by WorkCover. This is not your treating doctor.
The job of this specialist is to determine whether your injuries have become stable and stationary. Sadly, in practice these specialists are engaged by WorkCover all the time, and their real job is to help WorkCover get the “evidence” to close your claim.
If your injuries are stable and stationary, then WorkCover can close your file.
It is important to appreciate that just because an injury is stable and stationary does not mean that it has healed. It simply means that it will not become better nor will it become worse. It remains as is.
So if you think about it, the basic premise for a WorkCover doctor is very simple: If a year after your accident you still suffer from pain then it is fairly easy to say that it is unlikely that your condition will improve. On this basis, WorkCover’s doctor might say that your condition will remain as is. This gives enough to WorkCover to close your file.
If WorkCover’s doctor reports that you have suffered a degree of permanent impairment then before WorkCover closes its file, it will offer you a lump sum compensation payment. The amount of this compensation payment is worked out based on a formula.
So, for example, if the WorkCover doctor believes that your degree of permanent impairment is 5%, then WorkCover will offer you an amount which is payable for a 5% degree of permanent impairment.
The problem is the lump sum compensation offer which WorkCover might offer you at the end of your WorkCover claim is insufficient to properly compensate you.
For example, if WorkCover offers you $30,000 but at the same time you are unable to return to your old job, then how long will $30,000 keep you afloat?
Here is the most important thing to keep in mind: Unless you have suffered very serious injuries, if you accept WorkCover’s offer, then you loose your right to make a common law damages claim against WorkCover.
Why is this important? A common law damages claim against WorkCover can get you a lot more money then what WorkCover offers you at the end of your statutory WorkCover claim.
For example, if WorkCover offers you a lump sum compensation of $30,000 at the end of your statutory claim, it may well be possible to turn that into $300,000 during your common law damages claim.
When you make a common law damages claim against WorkCover (after your statutory claim has closed) you can seek compensation for things that WorkCover would not other wise be liable to pay you during the statutory claim.
For example, in the statutory claim WorkCover must pay you your weekly wages. When the statutory claim ends, the weekly wage payments also end. But what if you cannot return to work? The consequence is that you are going to loose wages going into the future. This is called future economic loss.
In the common law damages phase, you can seek recovery of your future economic loss. If you think about it, if you still have 10, 15 or 20 years before reaching retirement age, but you can’t return to work then there is a significant future economic loss claim which you can recover.
Even if you can return to work, if you are unable to work as much as you used to, then you can claim damages for your reduced earnings.
Usually, in a common law damages claim the future economic earnings loss is by far the biggest component of the damages claim.
Immediately after receiving from WorkCover a document called Notice of Assessment, we recommend you consult us here at Denes Lawyers, as we specialize in Queensland personal injury and workers’ compensation law.
We will give you advice at our very first meeting if you can make a damages claim, and how much you are likely to recover.
Our meeting is free of charge to you.
Of course, at our first meeting we can only give you an estimate of how much you are likely to recover, but we will be as accurate as possible because we want you to be able to make an informed decision.
If you then decide to then go ahead with your WorkCover Queensland common law damages claim, then the next step is that we will issue a Notice of Claim for Damages which we will give to WorkCover.
Thereafter, we will fully conduct your claim. This means that, unlike in the statutory phase, where you correspond directly with WorkCover, this time you need not communicate with WorkCover at all. All communication will be through us, so as to make the experience completely stress free to you.
We will spend approximately 3-6 months to obtain all relevant evidence in your claim.
We will also use this time to obtain our own medical evidence in relation to your injuries. We have a range of medical specialists that we commonly use when we build our client’s cases.
When we have obtained all evidence then we will attempt to settle your matter with WorkCover. If WorkCover is not prepared to pay you fair compensation by way of settlement, then we will sue them in court.
Many firms try to rush you to sign up with them without carefully considering your options. We encourage you to first learn about your personal injury claim. You should ask yourself:
Our book is available to you free of charge. You don’t have to be a client to receive this book. Head to the order page and we will be happy to send you a copy straight away.