Whether you can make a claim for compensation when you’re injured depends on a number of key factors, chief among them are where your injury occurred and what sort of harm you’ve sustained.
There are substantial differences in how the law treats a personal injury – such as where you trip and fall in a shopping centre or in a train station – compared with injuries sustained at work or in a car accident, which are governed by government-backed insurance schemes, or a claim against a superannuation fund for total and permanent disability (TPD).
Below is a brief overview of the types of injuries which may allow you to make a compensation claim, depending on how they were sustained. If you remain in doubt about this topic after reading this article, contact specialist compensation law firm Lifestyle Injury Lawyers for an initial discussion about the potential of your claim.
If you are considered an ‘employee’ at the place you work (which can encompass full-, part-time, casual and some other categories of worker) and you are injured in the course of your work, you may have a claim for workers’ compensation by lodging the claim with WorkCover Queensland.
There are a number of types of injury which may entitle you to make a workers’ compensation claim, including:
- Occupational illness and disease – if your workplace causes you to contract medical conditions such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, hearing loss, allergies, or repetitive motion injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, then you may have a valid claim for workers’ compensation. Even if your injury is not recognised as an ‘industrial injury’, it is possible to prove the injury was caused by your workplace.
- Diseases or pre-existing conditions worsened by work.
- Injuries suffered traveling to or from work, or in the course of your employment, or travelling to or from a place of training related to your work.
- Psychological and stress-related conditions such as depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by your work. Under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, your job or workplace must be a ‘significant contributing factor’ to your psychological or psychiatric condition.
Motor vehicle accident claims
In Queensland if you’re involved in a car accident that causes your injury and was the fault of the other driver, you can make a claim against that driver’s CTP insurer.
In motor vehicle accidents, the amount you may be entitled to will depend on the type and extent of your injury. Compensation can be paid to cover the costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation, loss of income, cost of care and support services.
‘General damages’ is an amount paid in compensation when you can prove that you have lost your quality of life as a result of the accident, such as ongoing pain and suffering. In order to make this claim, an injured person needs to be assessed on the Injury Scale Value provided for in the Civil Liability Act 2003. On this scale the injury is assigned a point value between zero and 100, where zero means the injury is not severe enough to justify any award of general damages, while 100 is the most severe injury possible.
Where you suffer an illness or injury which prevents you returning to work in the same capacity, or returning to work at all, and you have TPD insurance through your superannuation fund, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment in order to maintain your lifestyle.
Such claims are obviously governed by the terms of the policy and in most cases, will include a requirement that you show a minimum level of disability in order to be able to make a claim. This level of disability is measured against your ability to return to work to do the same job, or whether you’re able to work at all anymore. Many such claims are complicated by the need to wait until your injuries have stabilised in order to make the assessment about disability.
Personal injury claims
Where an accident causes you injury on public or private property, you may be able to make a claim for compensation if you can show that the accident was caused by the negligence of another party. This process involves proving that the party owed you a duty of care, that the duty was breached, and that the breach caused your injury or loss.
Common examples of this claim arise when people slip and trip in supermarkets or at shopping centres, hotels, theme parks and other public places; when people are injured by other people’s animals, such as a dog bite; when a defective or faulty product causes an injury; when someone is injured on a rental premises; when an injury is sustained during a sporting or recreational pursuit; or when someone is physically or sexually assaulted.
Compensation can be claimed for out-of-pocket expenses such as medical and rehabilitation, past and future loss of income, and past and future domestic care. A general damages amount can also be claimed for pain and suffering resulting in a loss of your quality of life.
As with motor vehicle accidents, the ISV scale mandated by the Civil Liability Act 2003 is used to assess the severity of injuries for the purposes of a general damages claim. The types of injuries that may be compensable in personal injury claims include:
- central nervous system and head injuries, including injuries such as paraplegia, quadriplegia and brain injuries;
- facial injuries, with skeletal injuries and scarring separately assessed;
- damage to senses such as loss of eyesight, hearing impairment, taste or smell damage;
- injuries to internal organs, of which there are 12 classes under the Civil Liability Regulation;
- mental disorders;
- orthopaedic injuries such as complete or partial loss of limb, pelvic damage, amputation or other trauma to limbs and extremities;
- scarring to parts of the body other than the face;
- injuries which impact a person’s ability to grow hair;
- dermatitis, including its psychological impact on sufferers.
Speak with the experts
As this post shows, it’s not only the circumstances in which you sustained an injury – at work, in the car, while shopping – that affects your claim for compensation, but the type of injury you sustained. Some injuries are compensable, and some are not. Psychological and psychiatric injuries, in particular, present more complicated challenges when making a claim and usually involve expert medical assessment.
In all these situations, however, you are best served by first speaking with Lifestyle Injury Lawyers. Compensation claims are the specialty of our expert team and our legal professionals are across the detail of the various legislative requirements which govern compensation claims in Queensland today.