Work related accidents and illnesses can be a cause of deep personal embarrassment and anxiety. Historically, Australian workplace culture has not necessarily looked after the best interests of workers and workers have had to ‘tough it out’ or ‘suck it up’ when dealing with work injuries or illnesses. This is a significant societal problem as workers’ compensation can be claimed in regards to most work-related injuries or illnesses.
WHO CAN MAKE A CLAIM
The West Australian workers’ compensation scheme aims to help workers return to work after suffering from a work-related illness or injury and compensates workers for lost wages, medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, medicines, travel and legal expenses while they are unable to work. The legislation provides a very broad definition as to who is a ‘worker’. Most of us are unaware that you can make a claim for workers’ compensation if you:
- work full-time, part-time or casually;
- work seasonally or on commission;
- work for a wage or a salary;
- are an overseas worker;
- are over the age of 65;
- are employed in Western Australia but your work related incident occurred interstate or overseas; or
- if you resigned from, were terminated or made redundant by the enterprise where you suffered your injury or illness.
WHAT IF I AM A CONTRACTOR OR WORKING DIRECTOR
The workers’ compensation legislation in West Australia provides significant protection to contractors and working directors. Here, a ‘primary’ and ‘extended’ definition of the term ‘worker’ covers workers under a contract of service or apprenticeship. The contract may be expressed or implied, oral or written and includes contractors and sub-contractors who:
- are paid on piece rates, hourly rates or per job;
- work for the employer on a ‘one-off’ or per job basis;
- do not have set hours of work;
- work for more than one employer;
- work unsupervised;
- are covered by an industrial award or agreement; or
- pay 20 % prescribed payments (sub-contractor’s tax).
In most circumstances, individual workers cannot cover themselves for workers’ compensation even if they operate their own enterprise and have an ABN. This exception does not, however, apply to working directors (for more detail on working directors see https://www.workcover.wa.gov.au/).
WHAT IF I WAS AT FAULT OR NEGLIGENT AND MY EMPLOYER WASN’T
The workers’ compensation system in West Australia works on a ‘no-fault’ basis. Therefore, even if you were negligent or at fault and suffered a work-related injury or illness you are entitled to claim for workers’ compensation. This principle also removes the requirement for you to prove that your employer was at fault or negligent in order for you to make a claim.
WHAT IF I ALREADY HAD MEDICAL ISSUES
You do not have to have suffered a specific accident to make a claim for workers’ compensation. Here, the legislation provides a broad definition of the term ‘injury’ and includes easily identifiable work accidents through to a more subtle irritation, aggravation or exacerbation of a pre-existing medical complaint. It is also important to note that injuries or illnesses can be physical (i.e. a broken leg) or psychological (i.e. stress or anxiety).
If you or someone you know has been injured or became ill at work, Separovic Injury Lawyers have the extensive experience and know-how to help. With over 30 years’ experience, we are workers’ compensation specialists and will fight hard for the best possible compensation payment available.
Workers’ compensation claims should be made as soon as possible after a work accident and delay can prejudice the final outcome, so please call us now for assistance.