The following is general advice for all workers and how to navigate the workers compensation scheme if you sustain an injury:
Report your injury straight away
Injured at work? Don’t brush it off or ignore your pain. Report the incident to your supervisor and they should report the incident to their insurer within 48 hours. You may also notify the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) or the Insurer yourself. The Workers Compensation Insurer should contact you in a matter of days after receiving notification of your injury.
Consult your medical practitioner
See your Doctor straight away. If you require investigations such as x-rays, MRI or other, get them done as soon as possible.
Don’t ignore your symptoms
Make sure to give your Doctors full details about your injury and symptoms. Ensure your Doctors are giving you access to the best possible treatment for your injury. If you are unsure, get a second opinion.
Ask all the questions
It is important to know what your obligations are and what rights and entitlements you have under workers compensation. There is no shame in asking the question that you need answered, your health and recovery are a priority. The workers compensation scheme is a complex and at times confusing system. You can seek advice from a legal practitioner, SIRA or from the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO).
Comply with your legal obligations
Under Workers Compensation legislation, injured workers have a responsibility to undergo reasonable and necessary treatment and be proactive in their recovery. This also includes returning to some form of work within your capabilities. The goal of the workers compensation system is to support injured workers to try and get back to some form of work. If you are unsure of your rehabilitation or return to work, speak to your GP or Specialists about your limitations and to assess your options.
Ensure Certificates of Capacity are completed properly
Medical Certificates of Capacity must be filled out comprehensively by your medical practitioner. These details include treatment, your work capacity, referral specialists which can help understand the true extent of an injury, rehabilitation, capacity for work to manage your claim. Please ensure your treating medical practitioner completes these Certificates properly. You can avoid significant problems if the Insurer believes the extent of your injury, rehabilitation or capacity for work is not ascertainable or inconsistent with other information.
Call, email or write a letter. There is nothing worse than just waiting. The system is not perfect. If you are waiting for a decision or a response, take steps to ensure you try to get the answers you need. There may be a point where you might need to get assistance from a legal practitioner, SIRA or the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO), but at least you have done your part.
Always keep a paper trail
You should always keep copies of documents, forms and correspondence including emails. Make a note of all conversations. If you are unsure as to the advice or conversation, ask for a letter, email or written request. Correspondence can be valuable, as most disputes and the breakdown of the working relationship with the insurer or your employer arises partly from miscommunication.
Any injury can have a huge effect on one’s mental health. This is an important issue in today’s world and injured workers are a highly vulnerable group. Speak to your treating medical practitioner, counsellor or someone close to you about how you feel about your injury. There is no shame in getting help and it is readily available under workers compensation or Medicare. If there is a psychological component to your injury, ensure your treating practitioners diagnose this and keep the insurer informed with comprehensive Certificates of Capacity and referrals.
Consult a lawyer
Get to know your rights and entitlements by consulting an expert in workers compensation law. There are strict time limitation periods in personal injury and workers compensation claims. You may be entitled to pursue an alternative claim in another area of law. You would only know this important information if you consult a solicitor as soon as possible after your injury. Just because you may have recovered from an injury does not mean you do not have an entitlement to compensation, treatment or damages.
Arming yourself with the right information can make the workers compensation system much easier to survive and may also assist in your recovery, or your claim.