Where Do You Stand When You Have a Work-Related Injury? by Rod Draper

Whichever way it goes, and no matter how you look at it, injury is a legal construct, every much as a physical, psychological, emotional and social one. Insurance companies and employers alike have a duty to mitigate their losses, reduce their exposure to risk, in other words, pay as little in injury damages as possible.

In the workplace injury merry go round; the insurer and employer have an obligation under the Act to mitigate the loss, as does the injured worker. That is, all stakeholders are expected to reduce the impact of an injury to all other stokeholds and in doing so, themselves.

Although the law in Qld changed in recent years to affect the requirement that ALL injuries incurred in a workplace are reported to Workcover QLD. Not just the claims. And remember I have spoken in previous articles that I would recommend that all injuries should affect a claim. Not all injuries are serious or lifechanging, and not all injuries incur a lengthy time off work or permanent impairment.

So not all injuries require a legal response. However, if any of the following happen:

  • the injury extends for months.
  • if there is a permanent impairment.
  • if there is secondary impact like a psychological (many cases where time off work extends past the circa 4-month mark incurs a secondary psychological injury).
  • If the injured worker is not happy with the employer or insurer response
  • If there is talk of “stable and stationary” before you think you are rehabilitated sufficiently (remembering that rehab does not mean to pre-injury status, just as good as is practicable.
  • If there is talk of closing the case before you feel effectively rehabilitated
  • If there is talk of IME and / or MAT
  • IME is Independent Medical Examination (independent to your treatment, not the insurer)
  • MAT is Medical Assessment Tribunal (if your specialist disagreed with the insurers, then the case is often referred to the MAT) A panel of three specialists that you present to and answer their questions (most people find this very uncomfortable).

Then it is time to as they say in the movies, “lawyer up” (if you haven’t already). So, choosing a lawyer can be quite daunting and here are some important points:

*Choose a law firm that is conversant in litigation, preferable injury litigation;

* Chose a law firm that will do the job under the premise ‘no win no fee’;

* Choose a law firm that will provide a schedule of costs and estimate of expenses before you sign anything.

Do not engage in any loans for service (there are plenty of well-known litigators that will gladly take your case, then promptly lend you $10,000 or so to assist with initial costs (doctors, specialists, etc), charge 28% interest and take $3000 or so as a retainer. You don’t need to do this. I will not mention any specific names in this column, but there are some very good firms that are very well known in injury litigation that do the afore mentioned, so shop around.

If you do engage a lawyer to represent you, do as they ask, don’t volunteer anything to the employer or insurer without discussing with your lawyer, and don’t assume you can be part of the negotiation (that’s what you’re paying them for). And you don’t have to tell anyone that you have engaged representation, its none of their business, the lawyer will do this when they start requesting documents etc.

Caveat: I am not a trained lawyer, this is not legal advice, just generic information about the injury legal process, I hope it helps.

For more information and to book an appointment with Rod email: rod@injuryrehab.net.au

Rod Draper

Rod has an extensive background in construction with a degree in economics. And for the last 6 years he has worked as a rehab counsellor with a Masters in Rehab counselling.

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