Employers in Queensland are required to take out insurance with the state government owned insurer, WorkCover Queensland.
When you injure yourself in the course of your employment, you can apply to WorkCover for rehabilitation and compensation payments (known as “workers’ compensation”) for the period you are unable to work.
This includes when travelling to and from work.
However, if you consider that your employer negligently caused your injury, you are also entitled to bring what is known as a “common law” claim for damages.
The Queensland Government has made recent changes to the workers’ compensation legislation, which now requires any worker to reach a 6% injury threshold in order to pursue a common law action against their employer.
It is very important to consider every possible way in which a Court might interpret your claim.
For example, your injury might occur whilst you are operating machinery on a road, in which case it may be necessary to join both WorkCover and the compulsory third party insurer of the motor vehicle as parties to your claim in order to protect your interests.
For workplace accident claims in Queensland, the usual process is as follows:
- You lodge a workers’ compensation claim with WorkCover and, if accepted, receive compensation and rehabilitation.
- Once you have reached “maximum medical improvement”, WorkCover will issue you with a “Notice of Assessment”, a document which sets out specific details about your injuries; may make a statutory offer of settlement; and allows you to proceed with your claim.
- You should not sign the Notice of Assessment before you obtain legal advice as, if you do so, your right to sue at common law may be lost.
- You are then required to issue WorkCover with a “Notice of Claim for Damages” within strict time limits.
- The parties then exchange relevant documentation. The defendant may or may not admit they are liable for your injuries.
- The parties must then attend a “compulsory conference”, which is effectively a mediation where the parties will discuss the claim in an informal setting.
- Proceedings are then issued in the Courts.
- If the claim is not resolved, the parties may attend a further mediation (sometimes with a mediator, who is an independent third party).
- Proceedings must generally be issued in a Court within three years of when the “cause of action” arises (commonly referred to as the Statute of Limitations), otherwise the right to sue for that injury will be lost. In any event, you should immediately seek legal advice from us as to your rights.
These types of claims can obviously become extremely complex and confusing for those with no experience in this area of law.
As there are very strict time limits for making a claim, we recommend that you speak with a solicitor immediately.