WorkSafe Vic pays lawyers million of dollars in confidential bonuses to minimise payouts!


Oh My God, Victoria’s work safety authority (WorkSafe Vic) is paying lawyers millions of dollars in confidential bonuses to minimise payouts in compensation cases brought by alleged victims of workplace accidents! How utterly disgusting!

WorkSafe Vic pays lawyers million of dollars in confidential bonuses to minimise payouts!

WorkSafe pays law firms bonuses to minimise victims’ payouts


Victoria’s work safety authority is paying lawyers millions of dollars in confidential bonuses to minimise payouts in compensation cases brought by alleged victims of workplace accidents.

In at least one case, a firm representing the authority received more than $1 million in bonuses over 12 months on top of legal fees.

The bonuses are paid out by WorkSafe Victoria, which receives its funding from fees paid by Victorian businesses. The bonus scheme has provoked debate inside the legal community because of the potential it will encourage firms to cut corners in order to maximise their bonus payouts, or devise other strategies that may not be in the best interest of victims or the scheme.

But defenders of the bonus system say it encourages lawyers to deal with cases more efficiently and prevents rorting of the state’s workers’ compensation scheme.

Leaked files from law firm Lander & Rogers reveal that it has made about $5 million in WorkSafe bonuses over five years by minimising payouts to alleged Victorian victims of workplace accidents. The biggest yearly bonus payout to the firm was $1.2 million in 2010.

The leaked files also show that the legal firm encourages its lawyers to offer ”entertainment” to WorkSafe Victoria executives at the tennis, musicals and barristers’ functions. A well-placed source said that at least two senior WorkSafe staff had attended events paid for by the Melbourne firm.

The leaked Lander & Rogers files show one strategy proposed by the firm involves creating closer ties, or becoming ”relationship partners” with lawyers representing workplace accident victims via ”targeted plaintiff firm strategies”.

Lawyers who support the incentive scheme argue it encourages law firms to deal with cases in a fair and timely fashion.

They say that maintaining professional relationships with plaintiff firms also leads to fairer outcomes by reducing legal hostilities that can lead to unnecessary litigation.

In defending the bonus scheme, a WorkSafe spokesman said that the extra payouts were offered because the fees defence firms get paid for handling WorkSafe cases ”are significantly less than standard commercial rates”. ”Performance incentives are designed to preserve and protect the interests of the scheme and the amount paid in [bonuses in] 2012-13 represents 0.3 per cent of the total benefits paid to injured Victorian workers last year,” the spokesman said.

Internal Lander & Rogers figures from 2011 show its WorkSafe department made almost $4 million in profit, most of which is later distributed to the firm’s partners. The law firm’s WorkSafe lawyers also generated bigger profit margins – up to 35 per cent – than lawyers from any other section of Lander & Rogers.

The WorkSafe spokesman also said the bonuses were only awarded if law firms ”meet a range of performance criteria, which includes achieving a timely outcome for injured workers’ claims for compensation and reducing the use of the courts”. WorkSafe declined to answer questions on the total in bonuses it paid law firms or how many gifts WorkSafe staff received.

”WorkSafe adheres to the criteria set out in the gifts, benefits and hospitality policy framework 2012 issued by the Public Sector Standards Commissioner and expects all employees to comply with the policy,” the spokesman said.

In response to questions about its bonuses and gift-giving policy, a Lander & Rogers spokesman said: ”Like other firms who provide legal services to WorkSafe, Lander & Rogers is eligible to receive performance incentives where it meets certain criteria, which include helping to ensure timely resolution of injured workers’ claims.

”We maintain professional working relationships with all plaintiff firms and other stakeholders in the workers compensation scheme and always work in the best interest of WorkSafe.”

The law firm threatened Fairfax Media with legal action if it published details from its leaked files.

In other developments linked to the management of WorkSafe cases, it is understood that some defence firms have reduced the hiring of private detectives who conduct surveillance on allegedly injured workers. The practice of conducting surveillance on workers has recently drawn the ire of several Victorian judges because it is viewed as expensive and intrusive.

But several lawyers who spoke to Fairfax Media said that surveillance was a critical tool to prevent rorting.




Kindly shared by co-author Rescape

23 Responses to “WorkSafe Vic pays lawyers million of dollars in confidential bonuses to minimise payouts!”

  1. Any form of bonus incentives where contracted law firms are in the position of power to decided injured workers cases – is a real conflict of interest. Bonuses mean that the government is happy with the results from that law firm. The more claims rejected/downplayed = more money kept in the TMF coffers. No wonder whenever I have seen ‘specialists’ contracted for the insurer – they have ALWAYS rejected/downplayed my injuries. On the flip side I have had fair assessments carried out by specialists that I have been referred to by my GP. You see it all the time in courts where defence barristers employ a ‘specialist’ to assert evidence in favour of the defence despite being ‘impartial and unbiased’. Yeah right. I can understand bonus incentives paid by government agencies for good performance in other fields where there is no problem about bias, it is all about results from productivity.
    Imagine if WorkCover victims paid their doctors a bit of extra bonus money and took them out to dinner, paid for some holidays etc. There would be hell to pay and the issue of bribery would be accused and fairly so. These bonus payments are a form of bribery and hence corruption. Massive conflict of interest in an area based on giving opinions. Very dangerous territory. I had the awful experience of my Whole Person Impairment claim going to the Workers Compensation Commission (NSW) because of a psychiatrist employed by the insurer gave me a WPI score that was 25% less (YES that is right 25%) that what my psychiatrist gave me. My psychiatrist is a very switched on intelligent man and has known me for several years since my claim began with many consultations and reports. I.E. he had a very intimate insightful thorough assessment of me. I have been hospitalized several times from suicidal/self harm incidents. My psychiatrist has seen me at the hospital most times as well. He has a huge amount of files relating to my injury. But one psychiatrist can decide my WPI% from an hour interview? Rubbish. Plus when I read his report he failed to record everything I told him. Also at other times my anxiety was so high I suffered from problems trying to articulate what I was telling him. I am terrible when being on the spot (like in an assessment interview by insurance doctor) and miss out on a lot of things. I did in fact want to tell the doctor more, but he told me, “I have enough here” thanks to the hour time limit ending. I was so angry and despondent after. I felt suicidal when I read his report. My solicitor at the time helped me and lodged an appeal. The problem is that I later found out, the appeal is forwarded to the Workers Compensation Commission to one of a group of doctors who are employed by the Commission. They are called Approved Medical Specialists. I was yet again interviewed by the AMS (who in fact invented the Psychiatric Impairment Rating Scale that determines a WPI%). I managed to submit verbal information that questioned the fairness of the previous psychiatrist’s assessment. In the end my WPI% was increased 2%. A further appeal was accepted but now it went before a panel of AMS at the WCC. The appeal was lost. The thing that really disturbed/disturbs me still is that the WCC has a panel of AMS’. They are psychiatrists who would now each other, work with each other, close to each other. That is a conflict in itself as it means AMS’ are not going to want to “shit in their own nests” by downgrading an assessment done by an AMS colleague who works in the same organization (WCC). I don’t care how much they blow their trumpet that they are unbiased. What a load of garbage. WorkCover victims are not completely stupid. Imagine siting on an appeal panel as an AMS and having to make a decision relating to a WPI% report completed by a work colleague? Is this a conflict of interest? OF COURSE IT BLOODY IS. Imagine sitting on the panel and reading a report from a work colleague and being asked to comment on it? Criticism anybody on the panel? “No”? A bit “embarrassing” eh? And the fact that roles are reversed meaning that the AMS that assessed your report on the appeal panel could then swap places for one of your reports being appealed against. Hence the notion of “payback” and hence getting criticized and your abilities being questioned and hence your reputation? No AMS wants a bad record against his/her name so don’t throw stones in glass houses. So why is the WCC immune from this? It seems that the WCC WPI% assessments by AMS’ are notorious for giving very low WPI% scores. I was later told by another injured worker that it was advised to him to avoid the WCC AT ALL COSTS for WPI% assessments. In other words, try to mitigate it with doctors outside WCC. And what is even more disturbing that after an appeal panel at WCC have made a decision, it is binding and there are no avenues of appeal. What the? This is so wrong. So they can really deflate your WPI% and there is nothing more you can do about it. Because it is in the legislation. So the WCC appeal panel have a huge position of power as the buck stops with them. The only way you can lodge a further WPI% claim is if your condition worsens after 6 months, you can be re-assessed. But you may end up with a really biased AMS again who trashes your claim and in fact claims you have improved. How terribly dangerous is this? Injured workers suffering enough already could spiral quickly into a very bad place an depression may tip them over the edge to suicide. When the system is so against you it is hard not to contemplate suicide at times. This is just a fact of suffering from depression. And that’s what the WCC, insurance companies, you ex-employer and TMF coffers want. And thanks to Barry O’Farrell, if you were not part of the exemption list of injured ex-employees, the avenues available for the badly injured workers has been severely slashed. What cover do politicians like O’Farrell get?

  2. These enormous undisclosed bonus payments, Gifts to the executive staff of the regulator,
    threats to the media if they published. Certainly does not speak well for the regulator who is supposed to set an example. The question is how long is this going to continue?

  3. insurance companies failure mmmmmmm its xmas i got a present from Allianz 4 fucking years of no reply to phone calls emails and mail and fuck me a reply and im framing it, Allianz you the best at nothing.


  4. I agree CGU Suck, the system was originally set up to help injured worker. The same can be said for every other system set up in the other Australian states. And just like in every other state the insurance companies, lawyers and other pencil pushers with vested interests have taken control of the system through various means and are screwing injured workers every way they can. It is ridiculous that we have state government controlled authorities looking after injured workers and when they fail to do so it is up to federal government authorities to pick up the tab.
    Since income taxes go to the federal government the simple solution would be to get rid of ALL the various state controlled Workcover authorities in Australia and form a single federal authority with uniform laws throughout the country that would put injured workers welfare before insurance company profits. Since failure of insurance companies to provide medical and financial support to injured workers puts the onus on federal agencies like Medicare and Centrelink to come to the rescue they should either run this new Federal Workcover system or have the authority to investigate and over-ride decisions made by it when the injured worker’s welfare is as stake.

  5. So … a serious question here.

    Why is it that the defendant solicitors get a bonus for minimising costs to the system, yet plaintiff solicitors do not. Do they not play a role in minimising the costs to the system?

    On the flip side, such bonuses would cause the question of whether they are acting in the best interest of the client or the bonus.

    The very same question needs to be asked of defendant solicitors. The system was set up for the benefit of workers who are injured at work, yet here we have bonuses being paid to insurers to get people back to work sooner (at the cost of the workers health) and we are paying defendant solicitors to get claims sorted sooner – again at the expense of the worker.

    What happens if the bonuses were put back into the system to ensure the worker is actually fit to return to work? Why not pay the worker a bonus to return to work earlier? That would act as an incentive to get people off claim wouldn’t it?

    Of course it wouldn’t – you’d end up with workers going back to work against doctor advice and a new mess would arise.

    Get rid of bonuses … its an abhorrence to the purpose of the system and good taste. Many a law firm and insurance company has demonstrated “moral hazard” when it comes to finding ways to maximise their income at the expense of the claimants.

    Utterly ridiculous.

  6. Piss off Allianz, you misunderstand what a conflict of interest is, as pointed out this is not a bonus for reaching targets in construction or performace bonus for work done well, it is a bonus for screwing injured workers, a clear conflict of interest to take money from the opposition to settle your clients case for a small sum. Piss off Allianz you seem to be barracking for the insurer and in my opinion your comments reek of yopu actually being a sock pupper for legal firms and or insurers. The Old my family were in the holocaut argument in not relevant to a conflict of interest by scum bag solicitors who you weem to work for?

    • @Tim Anderson

      “The Old my family were in the holocaust argument”

      This sort of distasteful remark has no place in any mature and respectful debate.

  7. Let me understand guys, has the bribing definition changed to “incentive”???

    • It seems that “bribe” and “incentive” are interchangeable. Just like “harassment” and “standard industry surveillance practices” ” or “bullying” and “reasonable management practices” etc etc

      It has always been this way, but it has gotten worse over the years culminating in the horrendous changes to WorkCover legislation by O’Farrell & others in the past year or two.

      Bring on a Royal Commission!

  8. When will the be a Royal commission in to this?

  9. Well said Bunny, we’re talking about the Victorian workers compensation Authority (WorkSafe Vic) who is bribing lawyers to minimise legitimate payouts to injured workers! It has nothing to do with paying bonuses to ensure timely case resolution, as we have seen earlier- WorkSafe Victoria a habitual and vexatious litigant!

    workcovervictim3 December 27, 2013 at 8:49 am
  10. Piss off allianz, you seem to have missed an important point here. WorkSafe Victoria is also supposed to be responsible for Work Safety. Regardless of whether corrupt practices are routine and therefore considered acceptable by some, it would appear that the statutory body responsible for ensuring safe workplaces is using money mandated by law to ensure that those who have been injured by unsafe work environments are not properly compensated. This is a government authority NOT a corporation only accountable to shareholders (like Insurance companies), any hint of corruption should be investigated. Paying private entities bonuses enters a very grey area and is totally open to abuse. I think calling for a Royal Commission is a good idea. Piss off allianz, to accept the obvious graft as normal is not to be part of the solution, it is part of the problem.

    • bunny you seemed to have missed the point here. all government contracts have performance measures in them where the contractor gets paid performance bonus if they meet those targets. if the government pay a contractor to build a road they get a bonus if they build it in under time and under budget. If that’s your idea of ‘corrupt practices’ or ‘graft’ then every government contract in Australia is corrupt by your definition. So worksafe pay the lawyers a bonus to deal with cases quickly, efficiently and cost effectively, so what. Nothing new here. What would you rather, they let the lawyer drag the case out for years so the lawyer can maximise his hours he bills worksafe?

      • The point is that the system we are in actually deals with PEOPLE, not buildings or infrastructure. I don’t see them handing out bonuses for employers improving workplace safety and that is one of their main reasons for actually existing. You seem to be stuck on the ‘efficient and cost effective’ aspects, where is the evidence for this? Most cases drag on forever and there are no performance bonuses for many government workers, only those who are private contractors. Says it all doesn’t it and yes since this type of contract has been implemented there have been many cases of corruption and graft. Seems like you are willing to accept some unproven notion of efficiency over the basic issue of justice. There have been efficient unjust governments (circa Germany 1933), I prefer one that promotes justice and as long as we have a system where the participants think that it is fine to pay bonuses for effectively robbing the victims, then we may as well all roll over and take it.

        • bunny, to twist lawyers been paid bonus as being in the same box as being subjected to nazism is sick and twisted. My elderly father in law is a holocaust survivor and your comment is vile and bloody disgusting. you have no idea what real unjustice and suffering is. lets bet your a government worker. you need to get out in the real world. there are many in the world who suffered far worse than you ever will in your sheltered public servant life or any of us on workcover will ever suffer. You seriously need to get a bloody reality check.

          piss off allianz December 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm
          • I find your response way out of line and totally incorrect. You have either completely misunderstood what I have been saying or you have another agenda. To denigrate government workers, try to imply that I am linking your grandfather and lawyers to Nazis (completely untrue) and then to personally attack me indicates that you have no idea of what I have been saying or you are trying to cover up what you really want to say. To ignore the blatant fact that insurance lawyers do not work in favour of injured workers and to accept a situation where they are given bonuses to make sure injured workers are robbed of their proper compensation indicates that you may not actually be an injured worker. Please do not respond to me again, I find your personal attacks on me and government workers quite repulsive.

            • Correction: It is not your grandfather, it is your father in law, but I do not know this person, I referred to ‘efficient governments’ and Germany in 1933 was exactly that and there were lawyers in that system. You have totally manipulated what I said.

      • While Workcover is entitled to pay bonuses to law firms it engages, our system of law is an adversarial one which does not fit with “forming “relationship partners” with lawyers representing workplace accident victims via ”targeted plaintiff firm strategies” which sounds like a policy of sharing the largess with the plaintiffs lawyers. I wonder if these lawyers reveal their cosy arrangements to the courts which they are duty bound to do. Ian

  11. total beat up.
    ‘leak’ not even news. Im betting an ex employee has an axe to grind
    a law firm entertains its clients…my god the shock of it. Dont all companies entertain their clients
    lawyer paid bonus for meeting performance measures…my god the shock of it. Dont we all pay our lawyers a sucess fee if they win and we have to pay ours a bloody 25% bonus at that.
    I bloody well expect workcover to incentivise their bloody lawyers to handle cases in an expedited manner other wise their lawyers have the incentive to drag our cases out for years and ever so they can bill workcover more hours.

  12. It was matter of time before the fraud was uncovered!
    Lander & Rogers is not alone, my B@stard solicitor also betrayed me, Solicitors usually make arrangements with your enemy, the insurance company!
    The system is just wrong, think about that the insurance company (the defendant) will pay your Solicitor’s expenses plus the injured worker will always pay another $5,000.
    This is just wrong, insurance companies should pay everything but only by Court order, NOT bribes!

    Lander & Rogers threatened to sue Fairfax for uncovering this FRAUD so why they said that this practice is nothing but to help injured workers even more???
    Helping from which side??? Lander & Rogers really shame on you guys all your families and relatives, you guys don’t deserve to run a business, you don’t even deserve to exist!

  13. I’m wondering if that was WorkSafe’s idea or did insurance companies came up with it and even supplied the “bonuses” . I think the matter should probably be investigated further by a Royal Commission and Worksafe Vic should face a class action lawsuit by past and present injured workers , problem may be finding a law firm who did not have its snout in the trough willing to take them on .

  14. Absolutely gross and disgusting solicitors effectively legally stealing compensation money that was owed to injured workers. Lander & Rogers solicitors to the greedy hartless bastards who earn money crushing workers. Landers and Rogers please sue me for defamation you heartless bastards in league with worksafe as self serving body in league with a few doctors guaranteed to deny valid claims. The most disgusting workplace fraud I have heard about

    Worksafe + Solicitors + Insurer’s Preferred Medical Expert = Dishonest System
    Worker + Injury v Dishonest System = Poverty Pain and suffering
    Bastards Worksafe + Greedy Insurer + Bastards Solicitors = Scum

    A Full list of commissions paid? Expose other companies like
    Landers and Rogers new logo “We Really Roger injured worker”