Who Benefits from WorkCover: The workers or Employers?

On the WorkCover website their mission statement is ’to increase the competitiveness of the NSW economy through productive, healthy and safe workplaces’.

Workers Compensation

Can an employee rely on WorkCover when injury strikes?

WorkCover promises a productive and safe place to work. However, after an independent report uncovered some damning truths, it has to be asked: who really benefits from this scheme – the employers or the employees?

An independent report into WorkCover recently discovered that New South Wales workers compensation was, in fact, skewed toward employers. The report found that workers have more restrictions than insurance companies who use lawyers than employees who do not. This sort of legal advantage can’t be underestimated: without a lawyer, most workers will not receive information about eligibility for compensation, and to compound that impact, insurers are not required to tell workers about their right of appeal.

With the criticisms of WorkCover piling up, this lack of communication between those injured, insurance companies and WorkCover is perhaps the most damaging of all. Sometimes the most disadvantaged – for example, those with mental injuries – are often treated the worst and their lack of education ensures the big insurance companies win the uneven fight.

The response from WorkCover has been a statement reassuring the scheme’s critics that they are working with the Independent Review Office to make sure employees are educated about their options and rights. Even with this response, it’s clear that more work has to be done by WorkCover to ensure both the employer and employee benefit fairly from the scheme.

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How Facebook Can Kill Your Worker’s Compensation Claim | BPC Law Blog

Everything good or bad that happens in our lives goes straight onto our Facebook wall: buying that new place in Sydney, that awful break-up, or just that hour of boredom at work. But is it really a good idea to broadcast every aspect of your life on the internet if you’re working with a lawyer to claim for worker’s compensation?

Social networking

There isn’t a person on Facebook who doesn’t have at least a few photos of them and their mates having a good time at a party. Maybe you’re just all sitting around drinking, or you might be getting up to a bit more. Regardless of what’s happening in the photos, they can be used as evidence against you and your worker’s compensation claim.

One real-life example of this sort of thing happening in a worker’s compensation case occurred in Arkansas in America. Zackery Clement was injured at work when a fridge fell on him. As a result of the accident, Clement found himself with a hernia. His initial claim for worker’s compensation went through, and he spent over a year receiving compensation for medical expenses and total-disability benefits. However, when Clement returned to court to extend the period of his compensation things went south.

Zackery Clement felt that he still needed to be on worker’s compensation for his accident as he was in “excruciating pain”. His first attempt at extending his benefits failed when medical tests on Clement found that he had no hernia anymore and didn’t need any further surgery. It was when Clement returned to court to appeal this decision that the Facebook photos appeared.

In a series of pictures shown to the court, Zackery Clement can be seen drinking with his buddies at a party, and generally having a good time – somewhat unbelievable behaviour for a man who claimed to be in excruciating pain. Initially, Clement tried to have the photos disregarded as evidence in the claim, but the court ruled that the photos could be used as proof against him. And with that Zackery Clement’s claim was denied.

Workers Compensation

Pictures of parties could cost you your worker’s compensation claim

The lesson here is obvious: if you’re going to claim for worker’s compensation, don’t be silly and have photographic proof of you doing things you claim you can’t, especially on your personal Facebook page.

Being Honest to Get the Best Results: What You Need to Know About Workers Compensation | BPC Law Blog

There’s an unfortunate stereotype that anyone who claims for workers compensation is just trying to get money and get out of having to do their job. It’s the job of many Sydney compensation lawyers to make sure that their client isn’t viewed that way by encouraging them to be as honest as possible. But how does honesty work in your favour when claiming for workers compensation?

Workers Compensation

Your claim for workers compensation is only going to be successful if you’re truly deserving of compensation. The way to prove this is to be as honest, open, and detailed about what your situation is or was, e.g. if you had a bad back for three months, keep a three-month-long record of it, and see doctors for their opinions. If you aren’t honest in your case, or you have very little material supporting your claim, it can all go quite badly.

Recently in the case between Topaltsis and Crane Distribution Ltd, Ms Topaltsis claimed for workers compensation saying that she had suffered a lower back injury because of her work. In affidavits presented to the court, she explained in detail the extent of her injury and how it had affected her daily life, but when she was cross-examined she was found to be avoiding questions and was deemed a ‘poor historian’ when it came to describing her life while injured. It’s possible that Ms Topaltsis has poor memory issues, or in a court situation became nervous and confused, however, the defense delved deeper into Ms Topaltsis’ actions and found that she hadn’t been honest about the extent of her injuries.

Workers Compensation

On Ms Topaltsis’ Facebook page she described going rock climbing at Kakadu, sleeping in a boat while out fishing, and walking long distances frequently all during the time period of her injury. If her back injury was as severe as she claimed she wouldn’t have been able to do those things. The defence also referred to notes taken by both her chiropractor and GP who stated that she didn’t have back pain, and they even showed video footage of Ms Topaltsis at the time doing actions like bending over that she had said she couldn’t do.

The case between Topaltsis and Crane Distribution Ltd is a perfect example of why being honest, as well as keeping records (and being able to remember them), will stand you in good stead when it comes to a workers compensation claim. Ms Topaltsis didn’t win her claim, but you can.

Psychiatric Injuries in the Workplace: Are You Protected by Compensation Law? | BPC Law Blog

It’s very difficult to define and prove psychiatric injuries for the purpose of receiving workers compensation. To be successful in such a claim, you often need to turn to the expertise of a Sydney compensation lawyer, but why is it so difficult to prove a psychiatric injury in the workplace?

Workers Compensation

A psychiatric injury in the workplace, or a work-related mental disorder as defined by SafeWork Australia is a little difficult to understand. In essence it boils down to mental stress, which isn’t actually a health condition, but rather the cause of health conditions like stress, anxiety, depression, and nervous breakdowns. SafeWork Australia realises that this mental stress can be caused by all number of things including seeing or being involved in a traumatic event, workplace violence, harassment, work pressure, or suicides and attempted suicides. However, just because you experience mental stress, doesn’t mean you will actually develop a diagnosable mental disorder – that all depends upon a wide range of factors including your own individual personality. So if mental stress is such a loose and slippery thing, is there even a chance of you receiving workers compensation for it?

In actuality, you can claim for workers compensation as a result of mental stress as long as you have evidence that the events occurred and it has affected you in negative some way. The problem is that many people do not claim for workers compensation for mental stress and psychiatric injuries for a number of reasons. One of the key reasons why people won’t make claims is because they do not realise it is possible to do so, and instead choose to use their own sick or holiday leave as a means of recovery. Other people leave the stressful work environment all together and don’t claim for compensation, possibly because they just want to get on with their lives. Others worry that if they do claim for psychiatric injury they will be treated differently as a result of having a mental illness.

The heart of it all is compensation law can help you if you suffer a psychiatric injury, but you can never be compensated if you don’t actually tell someone that you are suffering. If no one knows anything, they can’t do anything.

Violence at Work: Who’s Liable and Who’s Entitled to Workers Compensation Under the Law? | BPC Law blog

You’d be aware that when it comes to workers compensation claims, many regarding bullying or harassment in Sydney workplaces are paid out quickly. But what about if a worker is attacked in a random act of violence? Could a lawyer help them get fair compensation?

Compensation Law

When we’re talking about random acts of violence at work, think robberies and armed assailants. Now, most jobs aren’t high-risk, you don’t expect to get robbed or attacked, and neither do the business operators think it’s going to happen. This is where you run into issues of whether the attack on the worker was foreseeable.

To avoid paying large amounts of compensation, a business or place of employment will argue that the act of violence was so unlikely to happen that it was almost impossible, and therefore why would they need to have safety measures in place? Often in such cases, even if the judge thinks that the business did not do everything they could have potentially done to prevent such an incident, the court will find that the judge is focusing too much on hindsight. So could a business get away with never having to pay our compensation?

Of course not, the law expects any business or employer to assess real risks and to reduce these risks. If the risk is likely, something needs to be done, but if the risk is highly unlikely, the law doesn’t expect any employer to spend money on preventing it from happening as their money might never be put to good use.

Workers Compensation

CCTV cameras might not be deemed necessary in every place of work

In essence, if you have suffered because of an act of violence at work, to get your workers compensation appeal approved the likelihood of that attack comes into question. If it was likely that you would be attacked at work, e.g. you work at a service station, and your employer didn’t keep you safe, then you’ll find your claim will most likely get through. However, if you work in a safe industry and the attack was extremely unlikely, chances are that you won’t receive compensation.

How Victims Compensation Law Could Work for You? | BPC Law Blog

If you’re a victim of a crime, it’s important that you realise that you’re entitled to a number of things thanks to victims compensation laws in Sydney and NSW. It works like workers compensation, or any other compensation law, all you need to do is speak to the right people.

How Victims Compensation Law Could Work for You? | BPC Law Blog

The legal definition of a victim of crime is someone who suffers harm as a direct result of an act committed by a person in the course of committing a criminal offense. This harm may be physical, psychological, or psychiatric, and can also cover the damage, theft, or destruction of a person’s property. A person can also be a victim of crime if a family member dies due to someone committing a criminal offense. If you do fall under this definition, what does that mean you can expect in terms of compensation?

Recently, the victims compensation law in NSW was updated with the passing of the Victims Rights and Support Act 2013. Under this new act, if you are a victim of crime the sort of compensation you can receive includes:

  • Counselling services for that act of violence
  • Financial assistance for immediate needs that are the result of the act of violence (e.g. medical needs) up to a determined amount
  • Financial assistance up to a determined amount to compensate for loss of income or some other economic loss due to the criminal act
  • A recognition payment (this is a payment made to you by the person who harmed you) – this payment will depend on the crime committed (e.g. Robbery is $1,500)

How Victims Compensation Law Could Work for You? | BPC Law Blog

When it comes to claiming for victims compensation you need to be aware of time limits. Generally, you need to claim within two years of the crime. However, the time limit for claims relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse is 10 years. Of course, there are exemptions for crimes committed against children, and if you were a victim as a child your time limit only begins from the day you turn 18.

Victims compensation can, understandably, be a little confusing, but it is well worth your while to seek some form of compensation for your injuries after a criminal act has happened.

Workers Compensation Claims

Workers compensation lawyers in Sydney are kept very busy, as the most recent statistical bulletin provided by WorkCover New South Wales shows. The data within the statistical bulletin refers to the time period of 2008 to 2009, and though it may be a few years old, the data is still relevant in revealing exactly what it is compensation lawyers in Sydney, and throughout New South Wales, are dealing with. If you are considering making a workers compensation claim you may find the following statistics useful:workers compensation claim

  • Reported Injuries and Fatalities: In the year-long time period the statistical bulletin covers, WorkCover New South Wales dealt with a total of 42,858 employment injuries, including, tragically, 139 fatalities. These almost 43,000 employment injuries included occupational diseases, road traffic accidents at work, incidents during work, incidents during work breaks, commuting accidents, and incidents that occurred away from work during a recess period. As you can see, the scope of these claims is incredibly vast.
  • Payouts: As is the worker’s right, they are entitled to compensation. Sometimes the services of workers compensation lawyers may need to be employed to ensure this occurs, but not always. In total, $449 million was paid out for employment injuries. The average cost of a workers compensation claim was almost $21,000, but outlying data affected this result as half of the total claims received payouts of just over $8,500 or less.
  • Age: There is a perception that it is younger, more inexperienced workers that record the highest number of injuries and claims, and who will, therefore, require compensation lawyers. However, the data from 2008 to 2009 WorkCover statistical bulletin show that it is actually those aged between 45 and 49 years who have the highest number of injuries, and the highest incidence rate is of people aged between 60 and 64.
  • Industry: Some employment industries have higher risks of injury, due to heavy machinery or manual labour. This general supposition is proved with the top five industries with the highest incidence rate as follows:

1.     Mining at 33.5%

2.     Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing at 27.5%

3.    Manufacturing at 26.9%

4.    Construction at 23.5%

5.    Transport and Storage at 22.5%

If you are interested in workers compensation lawyers in Sydney to help you with your claims, call BPC Lawyers on (02) 8355 4002.