When you suffer an injury at work in Victoria, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages (weekly payments), medical expenses and lump sum compensation called an impairment benefit. These entitlements are known as your statutory benefits, or no-fault benefits. This article will examine the first of these entitlements, weekly payments of compensation after a workplace injury.
Am I entitled to worker’s compensation weekly payments?
To be entitled to WorkCover weekly payments generally, you first need to establish that you were a “worker” and that your injury occurred at, or in the course of, your employment.
If you require time off work for your injury, you need to show that your employment is a material contributing factor to the injury that is stopping you from returning to work. This ‘material contributing factor’ does not need to be the only reason or even the dominant reason. There may be other non-work-related factors that contribute to your incapacity. However, your work-related injury does need to materially contribute to your inability to work.
There are some types of injuries where the work-related contribution needs to be a significant factor rather than a material one. These include psychological injuries, aggravation of existing injuries or disease type injuries such as a stroke or heart attack.
What do I need to do to obtain WorkCover weekly payments of compensation?
Initially you will need to complete a Worker’s Injury Claim Form. You will need to give this to your employer along with a Certificate of Capacity which is a detailed medical certificate that your doctor will need to complete. This is a specific type of certificate and a standard ‘sick leave’ certificate from your doctor will not suffice. The Certificate of Capacity will outline what your injury is and whether you cannot work at all or if you can work, what your restrictions or modifications should be.
Your initial Certificate of Capacity will only be valid for a maximum of 14 days. Thereafter, they can be valid for up to 28 days.
It is important not to let these certificates lapse as you will not be paid any weekly payments of compensation for days that are not covered by a Certificate of Capacity.
How much will I my worker’s compensation weekly payments be?
Your rate of payment is based on your pre-injury average weekly earnings, known as your “PIAWE”. This is calculated by taking an average of your earnings for the 52-week period prior to your injury.
For the first 13 weeks of payments, you will be paid 95% of your PIAWE. Thereafter, you will receive 80% of your PIAWE.
There are caps on the maximum amount you can be paid. Therefore, if your PIAWE is greater than this maximum, you can only be paid the maximum rate.
What if I can still work but need modified or alternative duties?
If your Certificate of Capacity says that you can work in modified or alternative employment and your employer is able to provide you with that employment, then you are entitled to the difference between your actual earnings and 80% of your PIAWE.
If you have capacity to work in modified or alternate employment but your employer is unable to provide that employment, then you will receive the relevant percentage of your PIAWE.
Do I get superannuation payments on top of my weekly payments?
You are entitled to superannuation payments once you have received 52 weeks of weekly compensation payments. Unfortunately, there is no entitlement to superannuation payments during the first 52 weeks of weekly payments.
What about my overtime and shift allowances?
Any overtime and shift allowances you would have usually received will be factored into your PIAWE for the first 52 weeks of payments.
After this time, if you are still in receipt of weekly payments of compensation, your PIAWE will be recalculated excluding any overtime and shift allowances and you will continue to receive 80% of the new PIAWE amount.
How long will I receive weekly payments of compensation for?
Weekly payments of compensation are available for an aggregate period of 130 weeks. This does not have to be a consecutive period.
After you have received 130 weeks of payments, your entitlement to continue receiving weekly payments changes. You can learn more about this in our previous article, “WorkCover weekly payments after 130 weeks”.
Do I have to prove my employer caused my injuries?
To obtain worker’s compensation benefits under Victoria’s “statutory no-fault” scheme, there is no requirement to prove fault on the part of your employer or anyone else. You just need to show that you were a worker and injured at work or in the course of your employment.
If your injury was caused by the negligence of your employer or another party, you may also be entitled to common law damages in addition to your no-fault benefits. You can learn more about common law entitlements after a workplace injury in our previous article, “WorkCover common law damages in Victoria”.
What do I do if I have a dispute about my weekly payments of compensation?
If you disagree with a decision made in relation to your claim for weekly payments of compensation, you need to refer the dispute to the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (“ACCS”) within 60 days of the date of the decision you are disputing.
Depending on the outcome at the ACCS, there may be further avenues for you to pursue to resolve your dispute. It is important to obtain legal advice about your options.
Call Polaris on 1300 383 825 for advice. It costs you nothing to find out where you stand.
At Polaris, we are experts in WorkCover compensation claims. We’ve successfully represented many clients in relation to their worker’s compensation claims.
For advice or assistance with any aspect of your WorkCover claim, please get in touch directly with Polaris Lawyers. It doesn’t cost you anything to find out if you have a claim.