Worker Compensation Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Workers Compensation Claim Settlement?
Settlement of a claim is generally a monetary payout to you to finalise your claim, whether it is a common law claim, workers compensation claim, civil claim, motor vehicle claim or any other matter that has been commenced involving personal injury and loss. If you have been left with a permanent impairment and/or a continuing incapacity for work you may be entitled to a lump sum payout.
How does Workers Compensation Claim Settlement Work?
There are a couple of different ways to settle a workers compensation claim and while there are different methods of doing so the end result is basically the same:
1. Either you or the insurer commence negotiations to settle your claim;
2. An agreement on the terms of the settlement is reached (this includes when weekly payments and medical expenses stop);
3. The appropriate paperwork is prepared and signed by all parties;
4. The paperwork is sent to WorkCover WA for approval; and
5. A cheque is eventually sent out and the matter is over.
How Long Does a Workers Compensation Settlement Take?
The time it takes to settle a workers compensation claim varies wildly as there may be the need to obtain more medical evidence to ensure nothing is missed as far as current treatment and/or future treatment needed, a permanent impairment assessment for a Schedule 2 impairment entitlement calculations (you should get one from your own choice of AMS doctors and not rely on the insurers’ assessment) etc. Once the actual settlement negotiations commence it might take a couple of days or months depending on the expectations of both the parties (you and the insurer).

Once an agreement is reached the documentation needs to be finalised and signed by all parties which can take a week or 2 and then WorkCover will need to do their bit which is another week or so. The insurers are generally required to write to Centrelink, after WorkCover has notified them the settlement can go through, and request to know if any money is owing and they will not start their process for releasing your money until they have received a Centrelink notice back, so there could be 4 – 8 weeks more delays here.

What Do You Need To Be Aware Of When Settling a Workers Compensation Claim?
If you have an ongoing workers compensation claim and you decide to settle (and it is your decision despite what you may have been told) it will finalise your claim and any future time off work or medical expenses for that injury will need to be covered by you.
Medicare will retain 10% of any settlement sum and return it to you once they have established you did not book any treatment for your injury up to them, if you have they will take that amount of the sum before they send it back to you.
You also need to be aware of any implications with Social Security, Private Health or salary continuance insurance amongst other things.
If your common law termination date is still live it is likely that any settlement will prevent you from making a common law claim in the event you have reached the 15% whole person impairment threshold.
How Much Can I Get if I Settle My Workers Compensation Claim?
If your claim is settled on the basis of a permanent impairment (PI)(Schedule 2) you will need to be assessed by an Approved Medical Specialist as having suffered a PI and the percentage calculated in accordance with Schedule 2 of the Act to arrive at a monetary figure.
If you settle your claim on a lump sum basis your settlement sum will also include a component for weekly payments and medical expenses.
It is difficult to give you an idea of what you could get as a settlement without having a thorough look at your claim and all the information available including current capacity, ongoing medical expenses, weekly payments and other related documents.
Can You Work After Workers Comp Settlement?
Generally, once your workers’ compensation claim is settled you can go back to work – you should always follow your GP’s advice though.
Can I Close My Workers' Comp Case?
Yes you can, however, you need to be careful and it is strongly advised that you speak to a legal professional with expertise in workers compensation claims before you make the decision as there are several ways to ‘close a workers comp case’ and they may have implications you do not realise exist.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Workers Compensation?
No you don’t need a lawyer for workers compensation claims as such, however, if you find one that does not charge you any out of pocket (or out of your settlement) expenses why would you want to. It may also be that your workers’ compensation claim will need to go down the common law path (suing the employer) and in that case, you will generally need a lawyer.
Can I Sue for a Workplace Injury?
Possibly, it is complicated and you will need the services of a legal professional who specialises in workers compensation injuries and common law claims.
Can I Get Compensation for a Work Injury?
If you are injured at work in Western Australia, you are entitled to make a claim for workers compensation (a couple of exceptions apply) and if it is accepted you are entitled to weekly payments and medical expenses (which itself is compensation); you may also be eligible for a permanent impairment amount and if eligible (restrictions apply) there is also the possibility of further compensation through a common law claim.
How Long After a Work Injury Can You Sue?
Generally you must commence a personal injury action within 3 years from the date of injury – the Workers Compensation Act (WA) also has specific conditions that will need to be met before you are able to sue your employer.

Disclaimer – All the responses above are very general in nature and should not be relied on to any extent if you want to get a clear answer to any queries you should seek good legal advice.

Anvil Legal