It would be understandable for most people to believe that a workers’ compensation claim only applies to injuries sustained while a person is at work performing their duties.
In fact, claims can be made for a broader range of reasons, including working from home and – the subject of this post – having a motor vehicle accident while on the way either to or from your workplace.
If you have an accident on your way to or from work, a compensation claim is possible by lodging an application with WorkCover Queensland. This is commonly known as a ‘journey claim’.
In Queensland, the claim does not require the driver to show whether they were at fault for the accident.
In situations where the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, you can also make a personal injury claim against that driver’s CTP insurer alongside your workers’ compensation claim.
In any event, if the accident was not the fault of the worker/driver, the compulsory third party insurer of the driver at fault will reimburse the workers’ compensation insurer for the workers’ claim.
This claim, which could return a larger compensation payout than the statutory journey claim, can cover reimbursement for pain and suffering, medical and pharmaceutical expenses, travel expenses, rehabilitation, past and future loss of income, domestic assistance and care and future medical treatment.
If this separate claim is successful, compensation paid by WorkCover will be refunded by the at-fault driver’s CTP insurer.
What circumstances does a journey claim cover?
While a motor vehicle accident sustained to or from the journey to work, or on a work-related journey (such as to a training course, or an off-site work location such as a construction site, for example) is the most common type of journey claim, this type of claim can also potentially cover an injury sustained while walking or riding.
The legislation covers any work-related travel a worker is required to take, including journeys to other destinations under the terms of employment.
What can the claim cover?
A journey claim will provide much the same compensation as a straightforward workers’ compensation claim for an injury sustained during work hours.
Medical and rehabilitation expenses; the costs of travel to and from medical appointments; paid care and assistance while you are recovering from the injury; and wage benefits between 80 to 100 per cent of your normal gross wages are available to the successful claimant.
Statutory lump sum payments are also available in the event an injured worker is unable to return to work or their capacity to work is reduced.
The usual steps when a work-related injury occurs should be followed, despite the injury occurring off-site.
Treatment and assessment of the injury should be sought as soon as possible after the accident. Either then or shortly after, a work capacity certificate needs to be obtained from the treating doctor to be included with the compensation application.
The injury also needs to be reported to your employer as soon as possible. They may also require a comprehensive accident report to be filled out. In many cases, it will also be necessary to report the accident to the police, and any police report of the accident obtained.
It should be noted that if the accident occurred while a worker deviated from the normal route of their journey to or from work, such as visiting the shops to get groceries, then the compensation claim will not usually be accepted.
Thereafter, the workers’ compensation application needs to be filed with WorkCover, accompanied by as much supporting evidence as possible, which is where experienced compensation specialists come in…
Why do you need legal advice?
Strict time limits apply to journey claims. The workers’ compensation claim must be lodged with WorkCover Queensland no later than six months after the injury is sustained or has occurred.
A reasonable excuse for filing after this deadline is possible but is not often accepted.
Journey claims can be tricky. Insurers may push back on whether the journey was connected to your employment duties or constituted a non-work deviation. There may also be questions over the severity of the injury.
Specialist compensation firm, Lifestyle Injury Lawyers, has wide experience pursuing journey claims for clients. We will do the hard work for you in pulling together the considerable amount of paperwork required to support this type of claim, and make sure it is filed on time.
We will also strongly advocate for your claim in the event it is rejected by the insurer, or an attempt is made to settle for much less than you’re entitled to.
If you believe you have a journey claim after an accident on the way to or from work, contact us Gold Coast compensation lawyers today.