I’ve hurt my back at work – what should I do?
If you have suffered an injury to your back at work, you might be able to make a claim for compensation.
You may have suffered a back injury in the course of your employment due to heavy lifting, a slip and fall, or unsafe work practices generally. Your work may require repetitive movements such as lifting and bending, placing strain on your back by way of gradual process over the course of many years. Ultimately, there is a long list of possible work-related causes and it is important to remember that your injury does not necessarily need to have occurred as a consequence of a single incident.
As a first step, it is important that you report your injury to your employer as soon as possible and ensure a WorkCover claim is formally lodged with your employer within 30 days of you becoming aware of the injury.
Am I entitled to the cost of medical expenses for my back injury?
The simple answer is yes. If your back injury is accepted as being worked related and you require treatment, the WorkCover agent is obligated to fund the cost, so long as the proposed treatment is both reasonable and necessary. Often, it can be necessary for your treating Doctor to justify the treatment to the Workcover agent.
Of course, a back injury, whether niggling or traumatic – can be difficult to shake. You should discuss any proposed treatment options with your general practitioner as soon as possible following your back injury.
Once you have agreed upon a necessary treatment regime, your GP should be asked to write to the WorkCover insurer for funding approval.
Am I entitled to lost wages for my back injury?
Following acceptance of your claim, if you have a reduced capacity to perform your pre injury duties as a consequence of your work related back injury, you are entitled to weekly payments of compensation from WorkCover.
To demonstrate a reduced or total incapacity, you will be required to obtain regular certificates of capacity from a treating practitioner.
For the first 13 weeks, weekly payments are payable at the rate of 95% of your pre injury average weekly earnings (‘PIAWE’). After 13 weeks, you are entitled to 80% of your PIAWE. Unfortunately, overtime and shift allowances are included in your PIAWE for the first 52 weeks only.
Am I entitled to lump sum compensation for my back injury?
In some circumstances, where you have failed to fully recover from your back injury, you may be entitled to lump sum compensation.
Once your back injury has substantially stabilised, in the sense it is unlikely to significantly improve or deteriorate, you may be able lodge a claim for permanent impairment benefits. If your permanent impairment satisfies the necessary threshold, you may be entitled to a lump sum. You are not required to prove that your employer was at fault in causing your back injury, to be entitled to an impairment benefit.
Further, if you have suffered a ‘serious injury’, and you are able to prove that your employer or a third party was negligent in causing your injury, you may be entitled to common law damages. Damages may be payable to compensate you for pain and suffering as well as loss of earning capacity.
Subject to a range of circumstances, damages at common law can be significant.
How we can help
The claims process can be quite complicated. As soon as you become aware that you have sustained a back injury at work, you should get in contact with our team of workers compensation lawyers for expert advice. We can guide you through the process on a no win no fee basis.
The earlier that an expert lawyer is engaged, the sooner we are able to understand and build your case. This will help to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
For a no obligation free chat, please call us on 1300 020 618.