Workplace Injury & Worker’s Compensation
The obligations of workers and the insurers are set out in the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. The Commonwealth worker compensation scheme (“Comcare”) covers workers employed in Federal Government Departments, the ACT public sector and some national companies who are licensees under the Comcare system.
The current Licensee companies under the Comcare system are Commonwealth Bank, DHL, Linfox, National Australia Bank, Optus, StarTrack, Telstra, TNT , Australia Post , Cleanaway and Wilson Security.
If you have been injured at work, as a result of or during work activities, you will likely be eligible to make a workers’ compensation claim under the Comcare system. Benefits of this system are available regardless of who was at fault. The benefits extend to:
- Casual employees
- Full time and part time employees
- People who may be deemed to be workers
As an injured worker, you have some things you need to do to if you want to apply for workers’ compensation, such as:
- Report the incident and your injury to your employer as soon as practicable.
- Obtain a Workers’ Compensation Medical Certificate from the Doctor.
- Submit this certificate to your employer. NOTE: you do not have to see the employer’s doctor; you can and should choose your own treating doctor.
- Obtain a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form from your employer, or from the Comcare site. Complete this form and return it to your employer and/or Comcare.
- You should always keep copies of all documents handed to your employer, their insurer or a doctor.
- Submit your application for compensation as soon as possible.
- Cooperate with the employer and insurer with any reasonable requests regarding medical appointments for independent assessment and the return to work program. NOTE: The insurer or your employer should not ever come into a doctor’s appointment with you.
Permanent Impairment Advice
To challenge or dispute the assessment, you need to advise NT Worksafe within 1 month of receiving the assessment and medical report from the insurer.
Throughout the life of your claim, the insurer and employer will be making decisions about you, sometimes not in consultation with you. When you disagree with something they are doing, you can dispute that decision.
A dispute arises when you do not agree with a decision made by the employer/insurer. You may wish to dispute:
- Liability for workplace injury compensation claimed by you (rejection of the claim); or
- Cancellation or reduction of wage compensation being paid to you;
- Cancellation or refusal to pay for care and assistance at home or medical treatment and medical expenses such as prosthetics and aids.
If you want to dispute a decision of the insurer, then you have 90 days from the date of receipt of insurer’s decision to lodge a dispute with NT Worksafe where the matter will proceed to a mediation.
Going to mediation is mandatory, before any matter can be started in the Work Health Court.
You should get legal advice before attending a mediation. Remember the insurers have legal training to attend mediations and they go to them all the time; you do not. In some cases, the mediator will order for the employer or insurer to pay your lawyers to attend the mediation with you.
In our experience, all injured workers participating in a mediation process without legal assistance of some type are at an unfair disadvantage. The mediator is there to facilitate a discussion about the issues to help the parties resolve the matter. They are not there to assist or advise you about the merit of the claim, or your chances of winning the dispute if it is taken to the Work Health Court. This is why you need some legal assistance prior to a mediation, as well as at a mediation.
At the conclusion of the mediation, the mediator will issue a Mediator’s Certificate documenting the outcome.
Work Health Court Disputes
You have 28 days from date of the Mediator’s Certificate to file a claim with the Work Health Court disputing the decision about the acceptance or rejection of a claim or the cessation of benefits such as wages.
The Work Health Court has the power to hear and determine all matters and disputes that arise in relation to the Return to Work Act.
Lump Sum Settlement
There is no avenue to make a negligence claim against an employer in the Northern Territory. You cannot sue your boss when you sustain a work injury, even if it was their fault.
If you have a work injury compensation claim, you can, in the right circumstances, negotiate with the employer and insurer to pay out the value of your claim as a lump sum payment. This is referred to as a workers’ compensation agreement, but is better known as a Hopkins Agreement.
Not every work injury and claim is or can be finalised this way, so it is recommended that you always seek legal advice when you sustain an injury at work. This way you know you are accessing and receiving all of your entitlements under the Return to Work Act.
We only work for and represent injured workers and can assist and advise you about:
- Claiming workers compensation;
- Rejected or cancelled claims;
- Rejection of medical treatment and care and assistance during a claim;
- Disputes progressing through the mediation process;
- A claim in the Work Health Court;
- Lump sum settlements and Hopkins Agreements; and
- Permanent impairment assessments.