All too often, clients visit us and tell us about serious injuries they have sustained at the workplace. These injuries are often severe and require hospitalisation, ongoing medication and periods of time off work.
However, some clients have not actually submitted a workers compensation claim form because they feel that doing so will threaten their working relationship with their employer.
In some situations, workers have advised us that their bosses have told them not to submit a workers compensation claim form (either Return to Work or Comcare), and some bosses have even threatened the worker's ongoing career if a claim form is submitted.
Bosses are understandably concerned about workers submitting claims for compensation, because the amount of premiums that the organisation will have to pay to Return to Work is dependent on the claims history of the specific organisation. This means that an organisation where numerous workers get injured at work will likely pay more premiums compared to an organisation which has seen fewer work-related injuries.
If an organisation is 'self-insured' (that is, they manage their own workers compensation claims internally including paying the medical expenses and income maintenance of injured workers), a claim can cost the organisation a lot of money.
But it is highly unprofessional and contrary to the South Australian workers compensation scheme for an employer to actively discourage the lodgement of a legitimate workers cmpensation claim. It is against the law to threaten retaliation against a worker who wants to lodge a claim.
If you have been injured at work, but your employer is pressuring you not to lodge a claim, speak to a compensation lawyer at Andersons.
If you are suffering from a legitimate (referred to as 'compensable') work-related injury, you should be covered for reasonable medical expenses and income maintenance (your weekly wages). For example, if you injure your back whilst lifting heavy boxes at work, you may need to purchase pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication, see a chiropractor or physiotherapist and possibly even have surgery to repair any serious damage. If you have an accepted compensation claim, you should not be out of pocket for these medical expenses.
Similarly, if you have time off work but have an accepted Return to Work claim, you do not need to use your personal sick leave or annual leave; you should be entitled to 'income maintenance'. The legal issues regarding the payment of income maintenance can be tricky and won't be discussed in this blog, but generally speaking, if your injury has caused you to remain absent from work or reduce your hours, Return to Work or the self-insured employer should be paying your income.
If your injury is severe enough that it has caused a 'permanent impairment', you may also be entitled to lump-sum compensation for your pain and suffering. However, you can only claim this compensation if you have an accepted workers compensation claim.
You should even lodge a claim if you suffer from a psychological injury. For example, if you have been bullied or harassed at work, or unreasonable demands have been placed on you and you develop depression, anxiety or another psychological condition, you will likely be entitled to workers compensation.
There are many other rights and entitlements that may be owing to someone with an accepted workers compensation claim that have not been discussed in this blog. If you are injured at work but do not lodge a claim, you are putting yourself at risk.
So if you have been physically or psychologically injured while on the job and your employer has denied your claim or told you not to file a workers' compensation claim, speak to us at Andersons.