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Injured at Work in Victoria – WorkCover Claims Guide.

Man at work prior to making a WorkCover claim.

Thousands of Australians are injured at work each year, and if you’re one of them, knowing what your rights are and how you can access help is the best way to get your life back on track. From minor impairments to lifelong injuries, if you’re injured on the job, you may be entitled to a range of support, like payments to cover your lost wages, having your medical bills covered, and even a lump sum payout in some cases.

Australia operates on a national no-fault workers compensation scheme, which means you’ll be covered for any workplace injury even if you were partially responsible. The specific details of workers compensation are different in each state. This article will tell you everything you need to know about WorkCover, and what happens if you’re injured at work in Victoria.  

Injured at work in Victoria? Here’s what to do next

In Victoria, the workers compensation scheme is called WorkCover, and is regulated by WorkSafe Victoria.  If you’ve suffered a workplace injury, these steps will explain how to make a WorkCover claim.

Step 1. Seek medical treatment

If an incident occurs at work, get medical treatment as soon as possible. If your injury has developed over time, like a repetitive strain tear, seek medical treatment as soon as you realise it’s become a problem or you’re unable to work because of it. Accessing proper care early is important to give yourself the best chance to heal.  

Step 2. Report the injury

You have to report the injury within 30 days of being aware of it, if possible. There are exceptions, however acting quickly makes the claims process much easier. Once you’ve received treatment for your injury, make sure your supervisor or manager is aware of what’s happened. It’s then your employer’s responsibility to tell their insurer. Their incident report will require details like what kind of injury you’ve sustained, where you were when the incident occurred, and how the injury happened. They’ll also need to know if anyone else witnessed what happened or if it was captured on surveillance footage anywhere.

In the case of an injury that’s developed over time, it’s equally important to report it as soon as you’re able to. You should report it from the first date you have to take off work because of pain, or to seek treatment. You’ll have to fill out a WorkCover claim form which will ask for your version of the details. You must be truthful and provide as much detail as possible, and then sign the form. The form must be submitted either to your employer directly, or to WorkSafe Victoria.

Step 3. Have your injuries assessed by a doctor

Seeing a doctor is important for two reasons. Firstly, a doctor will make sure you’re caring for your injuries correctly and can refer you to other health care providers you may need. Secondly, you’ll also need a certificate of capacity from a doctor. This certificate will contain details of your impairment, existing conditions, treatment recommendations, capacity for work, and whether you’re able to complete any duties. You’ll need to provide this to the insurance company.

Step 4. Record everything

As explained above, your employer will keep a record of your injury, but it’s important that you do too. Being able to refer to a timeline of what happened may be valuable down the track, so keep on top of what’s going on. You might write this down in a journal or on your phone, but make sure you include the time and date of interactions like when you’ve spoken to your employer, medical appointments, and how the injury is impacting your life. You can even email it to yourself to have a date stamped copy.

Step 5. Contact a WorkCover lawyer

Navigating a WorkCover claims process can be time consuming and difficult, on top of managing your injury. Getting a WorkCover lawyer on your side gives you the best chance of success and accessing everything you may be entitled to. If you’d like to speak to an expert, or you’re not sure where to start, contact Law Partners for specialist advice without committing to anything, to see how we can help you. We win over 99% of our cases, and we can help you achieve the best results.

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How do I make a WorkCover claim?

The above steps give you an overview of the WorkCover claims process, which requires two main actions. The first is that your employer lodges a report about what happened with their insurer, and the second is that you lodge your WorkCover claim form. The claim form should be completed and lodged within 30 days of the injury, where possible. This is done through WorkSafe, who’ll be able to inform you of the process. You’ll need to see a doctor and get a Certificate of Capacity as well, which will have details about what kind of injuries you have, what your capacity for work is, and when you’ll be likely to return to work, if at all.

Once an injury has occurred and treatment has been sought, the insurer gets involved. They’ll either accept your claim and start making payments or alert you that they’ve denied your claim. In this circumstance, you don’t have to accept their decision. You can appeal the insurer’s decision. For more information, see My workers compensation claim has been denied, now what?

How long do I have to lodge a WorkCover claim?

If you’re injured at work, you have 30 days to notify your employer, and then the recommended timeframe for making a claim is six months. Making a claim within this period can make it a much smoother process and will also allow you to access things like weekly payments to cover your lost earnings as quickly as possible. This isn’t a hard limit though, and there’s plenty of flexibility if you weren’t able to reasonably make a claim within 30 days. For the best results, acting quickly is ideal, but not always possible.

Once the employer is aware of your injury or illness, they then have 10 days to notify their insurer of your claim. The insurer will then decide whether they accept the claim.

Can I claim for a mental or psychological injury in Victoria?

Many common injuries are physical, but there’s also a high chance of sustaining a psychological injury like depression, anxiety, or PTSD in the workplace. While these types of injuries are often under reported, they’re just as valid as physical injuries, and you’re still entitled to claim WorkCover in Victoria.

Tony, Ross, and John are all former police officers who had to leave the job they loved due to mental injuries. They all experienced PTSD, an unfortunately common psychological injury among police officers. Making a psychological injury claim can be a difficult and complicated process, and your best chance of success is to get a lawyer onside. You can hear Tony, Ross, and John tell their stories, and explain how Law Partners’ help with their psychological injury claims has changed their lives.

Can I claim while working from home?

Working from home has skyrocketed in recent years, so it’s common to ask if you can claim WorkCover while working from home. The answer is yes, as long as the injury happened while you were doing something specific to your employment. In these cases, you’re still entitled to your regular WorkCover arrangement and will be able to access the same support. It can be harder to prove that an injury at home was directly caused by your job, so having a specialised WorkCover lawyer on your side will give you the best chance of making a successful claim and accessing everything you may be entitled to.

How much can I claim on WorkCover in Victoria?

If your WorkCover claim is approved, then you’ll begin receiving payments from WorkSafe, who will provide weekly payments while you recover. Weekly payments are capped at $2,590. If you have no capacity to work, your weekly entitlements are as follows:

Time Frame Entitlement through WorkCover
Weeks 1-1395% pre-injury earnings
Weeks 12-13080% pre-injury earnings
130+ weeks and unlikely to improve80% pre-injury earnings indefinitely*

If you have some capacity to return to work, then you’ll be paid for the hours you work and may also receive workers compensation payments to make up your lost earnings. As well as lost earnings, if you’re injured at work then you’re entitled to have your medical costs covered as well. This might include the cost of medications, surgery, and rehabilitation.

In many cases, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment. A permanent impairment benefit is payable when you’ve suffered an injury that may never improve. These claims are usually made around 12 months after the initial injury so that you’ve had time to stabilise, and a doctor can assess how much you’ve been impacted. To be eligible, you’ll need to meet certain thresholds. For musculoskeletal injuries you’ll need to have experienced at least 5% whole person impairment (WPI), for physical injuries you’ll need to have suffered at least 10% WPI, and for psychological injuries the threshold is at least 30% WPI.

This table summarises the lump sum ranges you may be eligible to claim based on your percentage of WPI* for physical injuries.

Whole Person Impairment (WPI) % Lump sum payment range 2022/2021
5-9%$13,870 – $23,326
10-19%$25,690 – $54,478
20-29%$57,670 – $86,398
30-39%$89,590 – $139,990
40-49%$145,590 – $195,990
50-59%$201,590 – $251,900
60-69%$257,590- $307,990
70-79%$313-590 – $626,100

Another lump sum claim you may be entitled to make is a common law claim for damages, known as a work injury damages (WID) claim. This claim is available when you’ve suffered a serious injury that was caused, or directly contributed to, by someone else’s negligence. You’ll need a serious injury certificate to prove the significance of what’s happened to you, which you can get from WorkSafe either by telling your story and explaining the impact of the injury to an assessor, or by a doctor assigning you a WPI rating of 30% or more. Once you’ve made the appeal to WorkSafe they’ll take up to 120 days to decide whether to grant your certificate. You’ll need to be recognised as having a serious injury to be able to make a WID claim in Victoria.

Making a WID claim is an extensive and often stressful process, and it’s difficult to manage on your own. Having a WorkCover solicitor gives you support at every stage of making a claim and means you can be confident that an expert is working on your behalf to achieve the best results possible. You don’t have to do it alone.

If you’ve been injured at work in Victoria, there are plenty of options available to get you back on track. These include financial assistance like payments of lost wages, medical costs, and lump sum payments. This article offers an overview of the steps to take with a WorkCover claims process. If you’re not sure what you may be entitled to or you need help getting started, contact us today for free, personalised advice about your situation. Law Partners has local offices in and around Melbourne with specialist WorkCover and workers compensation lawyers to help you with your claim.

Rhiannon Templeton bio pic

Rhiannon Templeton

Senior Associate

One of Victoria’s leading experts in workers compensation claims, backed by over two decades worth of experience in assisting injured Australians receive everything they’re entitled to.

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