What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Everyone is bound to get injured on the job at some point. Some people can walk it off and return to work the next day without issue. Others suffer for years while trying to balance medical bills they can’t afford. 

If a person sustains an injury at work, the employer is the one responsible for providing some kind of coverage. It’s even more important if the injury will put this individual out of work indefinitely. Workers’ comp insurance is also the best option for an employer hoping to avoid a lawsuit. 

What is workers’ compensation insurance, and how does it protect you after a serious injury?

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ comp is a type of business insurance that provides financial support for a person injured on the job. It helps your employees pay their bills while they’re unable to work. It’s also a way to avoid an employee suing your company for an avoidable injury. 

Workers who accept access to workers’ compensation cannot sue for negligence against their employer. This goes even if the workers’ compensation does not fully repay the worker after an injury. The only option, in that case, is to fight for a bigger payout. 

Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage for anything from minor injuries to death.

An injured worker expected to recover is entitled to income maintenance for about two years from the date of their first payment. The pay lowers from 100% of what is owed to 80% in the second year of receiving their compensation. 

Suppose the worker is seriously injured and has a permanent impairment. In that case, they are entitled to 80% of the difference between their average weekly earnings and any current earnings. 

Who is Eligible for Workers Comp in Australia?

Workers’ compensation isn’t available to all workers across the country. To qualify for it, your employer must offer it as an option. 

After an injury, your employer contacts the insurer they’re partnered with. They notify the insurer of your injury and can start the claims process from there. Alternatively, the workers can lodge a claim with the insurer. 

In Australia, workers’ compensation laws state that a worker does not need to prove that an employer was negligent. You qualify as long as you were injured doing something work-related.

Furthermore, any worker is entitled to receive compensation from their employer. 

What is Included?

Workers’ comp in Australia helps to provide compensation while you seek medical treatment, rehabilitation, or can’t work due to your injury. It also provides the same coverage if you get an illness at work related to your job. 

The type of claim you submit will determine what kind of coverage you receive. There are claims for disabilities, time off from work, and even death. 

Benefits you could receive include coverage for your medical treatment and income replacement payments. Unless you are permanently disabled due to your injury, the payments are usually cut off after two years. 

In the case of death, your family receives death or funeral benefits. This may also include support payments such as a lump sum compensation or weekly payments for your dependents. 

How Common Are Work-Related Injuries?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Work-Related Injuries Survey, about 4.2% of employees experienced some kind of injury from 2017 to 2018. Of those injured, 39% did not take any time off work. Only 3.6% of them were unable to return to work. 

A quarter of all injured workers took 5 or more days off work but eventually returned. That’s all assuming there were injured individuals who submitted a compensation claim. It doesn’t take into account people who were injured on the job, and either did not or could not submit a claim. 

The frequency of worker injuries also depends on the industry. The most affected industries in Australia are transport, postal, and warehousing. After that, it’s agriculture, forestry, and fishing. 

Types of Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation

Generally speaking, injuries sustained on the job or at the workplace are considered work-related. These include hurting your back when transporting materials, slipping on a liquid, and developing a heat stroke on the job. As long as it wasn’t avoidable on your part, it’s considered your employer’s responsibility. 

Repetitive strain or stress injuries are common in a wide variety of workplace settings, and they’re usually covered by workers’ comp. However, some policies do not cover them since you could develop this issue at home. 

Similarly, injuries caused in part by a pre-existing condition may not get covered unless your employer was aware of the condition beforehand. 

Expect coverage for illnesses caused by on-the-job exposure. This includes exposure to asbestos or other airborne particulates.

You may also receive compensation for COVID-related injuries if you can prove that your work was a main contributing factor. 

How to File a Claim

In the case of a work-related injury, your employer may file a claim for you. You should also call your claims agent as soon as possible. Your workers’ compensation website may also have a portal to help you file a claim. 

Hiring a lawyer isn’t a necessity when you file, but it can help. Your employer may require that you file the claim yourself instead of going through them.

In that case, you want to make sure that you’re providing the correct information. It’s especially important if your specific claim comes with significant compensation. 

In the case that your claim is denied, you should receive a Section 74 Notice with all of your relevant information. If you believe this to be an error, your lawyer can challenge the decision with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. 

Get Coverage on the Job

What is workers’ compensation insurance for the average employee? It’s a way to continue getting paid even when you get hurt on the job. However, there are times when they deny a claim, and you’re left dreading what comes next. 

Barwick Boitano Lawyers has been providing legal services in Sydney’s West for over 30 years. We specialize in Personal Injury Law, Family Law, and more. Reach out to make a confidential appointment and to learn more about our services.