Australians are lucky that in each of our states and territories, we have a statutory workers’ compensation scheme designed to help you meet medical and rehabilitation costs of recovery should you be injured at work.
But what happens in the situation where you’re injured while travelling to or from work? Are you covered by the scheme and able to claim compensation for the costs incurred by any injury you suffer?
In Queensland this scenario is addressed in the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (‘the Act’). Its key provision is that a worker needs to have started the journey to work (or to home from work), without any significant delays or deviations on that journey, in order to be able to make a compensation claim. An injury that occurs inside or within the boundaries of your home does not qualify as the beginning of your journey. The situation is different in other states and territories of Australia.
Such claims are known as ‘journey claims’ and we’ll take a look at the general principles governing such a claim below. If you have been injured on your way to, or on your way back from, work you should consult legal professionals expert in compensation claims to assess the likelihood of your claim’s success.
In what circumstances can you make a journey claim?
There are a few conditions you need to meet in order to make a valid journey claim after being injured on your way to or from work.
- that the journey is between your home or your workplace, or a place of trade or training which you were required to attend as part of your work duties;
- if you have an existing workers’ compensation claim and are involved in an accident on your way to or from a place of medical or rehabilitation treatment;
- where you were travelling between employment with one employer and employment with another employer.
There are also some provisos which will either prevent or impair your ability to claim compensation for journeys to or from work, including:
- that you were intoxicated or drove recklessly during the journey;
- that you broke road rules during the journey and thereby caused the accident which resulted in your injury;
- that you started your journey after a ‘significant delay or deviation’ from your normal route; or
- that you have not left the boundaries of your home.
The Act defines a worker’s home as your usual place of residence but may also encompass a temporary residence.
What constitutes a significant delay or deviation?
The legislation directly addresses the situation where your journey to or from work involves a delay or deviation, as this provision can often lead to a challenge to your claim by insurers.
If asked to make a judgment on delay and deviation, a court will take into account:
- the reason for the delay or deviation;
- the actual or estimated period of time for the journey in relation to the actual or estimated period of time for the delay or deviation;
- for a deviation, the distance travelled for the journey in relation to the distance travelled for the deviation.
A person making a compensation claim can also avoid the ‘delay or deviation’ qualification if they can prove that the delay, interruption or deviation was connected with their employment, or that it was caused by circumstances beyond the worker’s control.
Can you also make a CTP claim?
Apart from a workers’ compensation claim, you may also be able to make a claim against another driver’s compulsory third party (CTP) insurer if the negligence of a driver or another road user caused an accident which resulted in injury on your way to or from work.
This claim may encompass a claim for pain and suffering; medical, pharmaceutical expenses and travel expenses; rehab costs; past and future loss of income; past and future superannuation benefits; domestic care and assistance by family members and friends; paid domestic care and assistance from service providers; future medical treatment, and; retraining costs.
Such a claim must be submitted to the at-fault driver’s CTP insurer within nine months of the date of accident, or within one month of speaking with a lawyer about the claim. There is also a strictly enforced time limit of three years in which to commence legal proceedings on the claim.
Consult the experts
At Lifestyle Injury Lawyers, compensation claims are our specialty. We have represented many clients making journey claims for injuries sustained on their way to or from work, and can help advise you of your chances of success as well as gather the necessary evidence in order to make a successful claim.