What is a workplace accident? Advice from a workplace accident lawyer

21/05/2020

By Jenny Forti, Principal Lawyer, Accredited Specialist Personal Injury Law

Everyone has the right to workplace safety, and the right to compensation if that safety is compromised and they are injured at work. Workers’ compensation covers workplace accidents and ensures that you are protected if you suffer an injury.

Below, we outline what constitutes a workplace accident, what some of the most common workplace accidents and injuries are, and how you can seek help and compensation. Please see our complete guide for more information.

What kinds of workplace accidents are covered by workers’ compensation?

Some of the most common injuries we see are caused by lifting, bending, twisting or manual handling. All workplace injuries are different, and they don’t always happen in an instant. Many workers become injured over a prolonged period of time as a result of their work duties. This includes both physical and psychological injuries.

What are my rights if I get hurt on the job?

If you suffer an injury at work, you are entitled to receive benefits under the WorkCover scheme. This can include medical treatment, weekly payments of compensation if you can’t do the job that you were doing prior to your injury, and in some circumstances, lump sum compensation.

If you have an accepted WorkCover claim, your employer is obligated to provide you with modified duties, if they are available, for a period of 52 weeks.

When should I get a lawyer for workers’ compensation?

It is important to obtain legal advice early on after you have suffered an injury, in order to maximise the compensation that you might be entitled to.

There are also strict time limits to access certain types of compensation. Obtaining timely legal advice will ensure that those time limits are not missed.

Can I claim workers’ compensation for negligence?

In order to be entitled to sue your employer or another party in negligence under the workers’ compensation scheme, you must first establish that you have suffered a serious injury under the law.

Whether or not you have suffered a serious injury requires an assessment of the consequences that the injury has had on your life. This includes the treatment that you have undergone and are likely to require in the future and the impact that the injury has had on your ability to work and perform the general activities of daily living.

What are the most common injuries in the workplace?

Workplace injuries vary significantly across industries. However, the most common injuries are musculoskeletal injuries – that is, injuries to the muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons. Musculoskeletal injuries make up approximately 90 percent of injuries that require a worker to take at least one week off work.

Other common injuries are referred to as diseases. These include mental health conditions and respiratory conditions, such as silicosis and occupational lung cancer.

How do I make a workers’ compensation claim?

Compensation for a work injury is accessed by lodging a Workers Injury Claim Form. An injured worker is required to lodge the claim form with their employer as soon as practicable after they have suffered their injury.

Once the employer has received the form, they must forward it to the relevant workers’ compensation insurer within 10 days. Within a further 28 days, the insurer must provide a written response to the injured worker, either accepting or rejecting their claim.

If you cannot perform your normal job after an injury and would like to claim weekly payments, you must add a Certificate of Capacity to your lodge claim. You can obtain this certificate from your treatment provider such as your GP or physiotherapist.

What to do if this information applies to you

At Gordon Legal, we understand that workers compensation claims are a personal issue.

For personalised and individual advice, we offer consultations to discuss your matter.

Please call Gordon Legal (Melbourne) on 1800 21 22 23 or our Geelong office on (03) 5225 1600 to speak with a member of our team.

Given the current environment, we are providing consultations over the phone, Zoom, WebEx or Skype.

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