Why Workers’ Compensation Can Be So Difficult For Claimants
Workplaces are required by law to be insured for workers’ compensation so they are financially protected if employees sustain an injury related to their job. These compensation claims operate on a no fault basis, with the insurer (usually WorkCover Queensland) paying medical costs and wages regardless of what caused the injury.
It sounds so straightforward, yet injured workers often experience significant difficulties when making work-related injury claims. These difficulties can arise from their dealings with insurers or from pursuing the more complex common law claims for damages.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies ultimately operate as large businesses with employees who largely follow the company script. Compared to experienced compensation lawyers, claims officers undergo limited training in terms of understanding the workers’ compensation scheme, which is quite complex.
Instead, they will simply follow procedure which, in many cases, will result in you not getting fair compensation. This isn’t always because they want to take advantage of you but because they genuinely don’t fully understand your compensation rights and don’t apply them properly.
Other times, insurers might act maliciously if they can sense you are ignorant about your rights. They may act in a very forthcoming manner and offer you a seemingly enticing settlement, hoping you’ll believe everything they say about your entitlements. Meanwhile, they might leave out important information such as your entitlement to lump sum compensation or your right to make a common law claim.
Understanding the Value of a Claim
It’s difficult to be sure how much your claim is actually worth. Some injured workers inflate the value of their case because they might have seen high settlements for workers’ compensation reported in the news before, while others might underestimate how much their claim is worth.
WorkCover insurance companies have a reputation for being conservative when it comes to placing a value on claims. This is especially true for small (non-catastrophic) cases. Occasionally, the first offer can be insultingly low and will only be raised through negotiation.
When Court Action Goes Wrong
Injured workers who are unhappy with the settlement offered by the WorkCover insurance company may decide to take the case to court. In terms of the final compensation received, court action can backfire spectacularly.
It’s essential to take the time to clearly understand the costs, risks and problems with litigation. These include costly expert witness testimonials, the lapse of time getting to trial (ranging from 12 to 18 months) and the legal fees you will incur.
Beware that the potential verdict you receive could be a fraction of the insurer’s final offer. Also, keep in mind that juries may be particularly reluctant to award significant verdicts in small cases such as soft tissue injuries.
The Importance of Quality Legal Advice
The simplest way of mitigating the above issues is to hire an experienced compensation lawyer who can provide expert advice specific to your case every step of the way. They’ll investigate, gather evidence, negotiate on your behalf and ensure you receive a reasonable settlement offer.
Get in touch with the team at Brisbane Injury Lawyers if you need assistance with your workers’ compensation claim in Queensland. We offer a “no win, no fee” service so you can avoid stressing about legal costs while making your claim.