Common Law Claims – Psychological Injury.
Psychological injuries can be completely debilitating, and in many cases can prevent sufferers from working. However, if the condition has been primarily caused by your work, workers compensation payments may be available to you.
Where employers have been negligent and failed to take steps to look after their employees, common law claims for psychological injury may also be available, to provide sufferers with lump sum compensation.
These lump sums can be substantial, so if you’ve developed a psychological condition because of your work, you should take some time to understand your options and your entitlement to make a common law claim. But before you make a common law claim, you must first make a successful workers compensation claim.
Am I entitled to make a compensation claim for my psychological injury?
If you have a phycological injury or you’ve developed a psychological condition from your work, it’s likely you can claim workers compensation.
To qualify for workers compensation, you’ll need a diagnosis of your psychological condition from your GP on your certificate of capacity – for example, ‘Adjustment Disorder’. You’ll also need to show that your diagnosed psychological condition was caused by a particular event or series of events at work, or that work was a significant contributing factor to your condition.
The most common stress-related workers compensation claims in NSW are for:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Adjustment Disorder
Some examples of the events that can cause these conditions include:
- Work stress
- A traumatic event
- Being overworked
- Working dangerous hours
- A physical injury
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What’s a common law claim for psychological injury?
A common law claim, also known as a work injury damages claim, is a claim for a lump sum to cover past and future loss of earnings – compensation for wages and superannuation lost because you have been unable to work or are unable to work into the future. This payment is in addition to your workers compensation payments.
Am I entitled to make a common law claim for psychological injury?
If your diagnosed psychological injury was the result of negligence by your employer, you might be entitled to make a common law claim. To be eligible for this lump sum, you’ll need to:
- Make a successful claim for workers compensation first
- Have at least 15% permanent impairment, and have this assessment accepted by the insurer or determined by the Workers Compensation Commission
- Have received all statutory lump sum payouts for permanent impairment that you’re entitled to – this must take place before your common law claim can be settled
What is considered negligence by my employer?
Your employer is negligent if they knew about the situation that led to your psychological injury and failed to take action to prevent it. In other words, if they were aware that you were at risk, they had a duty of care to minimise that risk.
For example, if you were the victim of bullying or harassment from your work colleagues, and management knew it was taking place but failed to take steps to prevent it, then your employer could be considered negligent if you developed a psychological injury.
How do I make a common law claim for a psychological injury?
To make a common law claim for a psychological injury in NSW, you’ll need the following information:
- Details of your psychological injury and impairments
- Details of the event or events that led to the injury
- Details of any previous injury or condition that may have contributed to your condition
- Details of any compensation you’ve received for the previous injuries or conditions
- Details of previous employment that may have contributed to the injury
- Details of how you employer breached their duty of care towards you
- The amount you’re claiming as damages and supporting documentation
- A report from a permanent impairment assessor
If you engage a specialist workers compensation lawyer, your lawyer will run your claim for you, including getting all the necessary reports and compiling the evidence to support your claim.
Make sure you choose a lawyer who has a strong track record with common law claims for psychological injury. Law Partners is Australia’s largest specialist personal injury firm, and we have some of the best workers compensation lawyers in NSW who can manage your claim from start to finish on a no win no fee basis.
How much will I get for my common law claim?
If you make a successful common law claim for psychological injury, you’ll be paid a lump sum based on your past and future lost earnings. This lump sum is in addition to any lump sum payments for permanent impairment that you’re entitled to.
These lump sum settlements can be substantial. In the 12 months to February 2021 a total of over $535 million was paid to injured workers in NSW in common law payments and permanent impairment lump sums*. Lump sum payouts for permanent impairment range from $22,480 up to a maximum of $631,370.
*According to SIRA Open Data, May 2021.
You can call 13 15 15 and get free advice on common law claims from a Law Partners Workers Compensation Lawyer.
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