Workcover tips and trick
Here are a few tips as shared by injured workers and advocates
Medical certificates (workcover certificate of (in)capacity)
When submitting your medical certificates ensure that you complete the section on the back of the certificate about your work activities. If you don’t it will delay your payments and the form will be sent back to you. It may also be useful to try and ensure that your certificates expire on a Saturday or Sunday to make it easier for WorkCover or your employer to calculate your weekly entitlement. This enables weekly benefits to be paid in whole weeks.
Facebook and workcover claims
Facebook’s new announcement today creates even a greater problem for workers’ compensation claimants. Providing even greater historical information about an unsophisticated Facebook user puts even more information, out of context, into the hands of the employer during litigation which can be detrimental to a claim.
See Facebook Privacy Blog
“Starting today, you will be able to download an expanded archive of your Facebook account history. First introduced in 2010, Download Your Information lets you get a copy of what you’ve shared on Facebook, such as photos, posts, messages, a list of friends and chat conversations. Now you can access additional categories of information, including previous names, friend requests you’ve made and IP addresses you logged in from. This feature will be rolling out gradually to all users and more categories of information will be available for download in the future. Download Your Information is available from your Facebook Account Settings.”
What to do when workcover is debilitating and not improving my health problem?
Im being asked to attend WC psychiatrists and Medical Panels to continue my WC payments. I find this continual harassment debilitating where my mood and emotional state plummets and at times to a suicidal level. How can government departments put sufferers like myself through this gruelling process when they supposedly have an “understanding” and “promote” depression and anxiety awareness?
People on WC with similar problems have “invisible” symptoms which are very real and each time I am asked to expose my wounds, it’s like peeling a piece of myself back and allowing these supposed experts to poke and prod and undo any advancement I have made taking me back considerably. How can this be to the benefit of my condition?
One of the difficulties with involvement in the WC system that clients often report to me is that experience of a loss of control over fundamental areas of their life ie. occupationally and personally. At the same time the injured worker has obligations to fulfill within that system such as attending reasonable appointments. I treat a lot of WC clients with PTSD, depression and anxiety and in this circumstance I advise them to take the following steps to take become proactive and assume control over their recovery and rehabilitation.
1. Write a chronological history of your injury/course of your condition to keep on your computer so you can add to it as time progresses and circumstances change. This way when you are asked to attend an Independent Medical Examination (IME) you take the printed document and give that to the doctor or psychologist conducting the assessment. You respectfully tell them that going over the same information multiple times verbally is not assisting with your recovery and for this reason you have a written document they can read and if they have any questions after they have read it you would be happy to answer them. This also serves two other purposes it reduces the chance of errors that can occur in giving a verbal history and it enables you to have equal control over the interview process. It is not reasonable for Insurers to be sending injured workers for multiple IMEs in a twelve month period without a clinical justification so if you feel that the insurer is exceeding what is reasonable contact Workcover directly on their helpline and ask them.
2. Take a support person to any IMEs. The support person cannot contribute information to the interview but they can take notes on your behalf if you feel that is necessary and they will also be able to verify your recollections later. When the appointment is made indicate to the person advising you of the appointment that you will be bringing a support person. At the appointment you need to indicate to the examining practitioner that you have a support person with you and as a professional courteousy ask the examiner if they agree to the support person sitting in. In my experience most medical examiners do not raise an objection if the request is made respectfully. If this is refused you may decide you do not want to proceed with the interview but you need to be able to justify your decision on that basis to the Insurer or Workcover.
3. Ask the Insurer in writing for a copy of the IME report (They do not willingly provide it). You may be able to request a copy under the privacy act depending on which state you live in and you may be asked to pay an ‘administration fee’ for the suppy of it to you). If the Insurer does not want to release it to you directly because of concerns for your well being (more common with psychological injuries) then you can request it be released to your nominated treating doctor (NTD) and then make an appointment with your NTD so they can give you access to the report and answer any questions you might have. Your doctor can give you a copy if they choose to.
4. The WC system is there to assist the injured worker to return to employment. From a long term perspective financially and psychologically the outcomes for injured workers are much better if they return to their pre-injury occupational functioning (not necessarily the same job or employer depending on the circumstances) but being gainfully employed. So it is important to inform yourself about what assistance is available to you to help you to get back to work within the workcover system. Such as work trials, financial assistance with one off purchases that will directly enable you to take up a position (ie. tools, equipment etc.) interview skills, resume writing, job seeking, advice regarding disclosure of injury etc. Keeping yourself informed about your rights as well as fulfilling your responsibilities is another way of maintaining control and being proactive in your own recovery.
Restraining/Intervention Order against Case Manager
Atlas Legal has kindly provided us with some more great information regarding the recording of communications with workcover, including this real live letter, which can be adapted by any injured worker seeking that all communication from their case manager /insurer is to go through another party/legal representative.
I write to you in relation to your recent conversation with my wife over the last couple of days but most particularly today’s date at approximately 2.10pm.
You may or may not be aware of my wife’s medical condition and prior direction to the former Insurers GIO. Therefore, I will stipulate and remind you of those at this time yet again. My wife suffers from a serious psychological injury; your continual communications with her only aggravate the situation.
GIO was and now we remind and direct GALLAGHER BASSETT that ALL communications are to go through my wife’s Legal Representatives.
(Legal Reps details)
From this date forth, my wife directs Gallagher Bassett not to communicate with her directly in any way shape or form, no telephone calls, no letters, no emails, not even messenger pigeons NONE WHATSOEVER.
You have been put on notice and failing which my wife will have no other alternative but to apply for an Intervention Order against any personnel from Gallagher Bassett that tries to contact her. She is NOT WELL.
Useful information on bullying & harassment & evidence
We thank you for your assistance in this matter. Work Place Bullying and Harassment still continues to this day even after “Brodie’s Law” has been implemented in the State of Victoria. We should not and will not forget that beautiful young lady (Brodie Panlock) and her loved ones. Especially after her young life was cut, so tragically short in the prime of her life, in an absolute tragedy, which should never have happened, and in one, which could and should have been prevented. The treatment by those less than human individuals (calling them animals would be an insult to animals) should never have happened.
Whilst those less than human individuals continue on with their lives, they have caused immeasurable pain and sorrow to young Brodie’s loved ones. Who will have a void in their lives until their last breath. They will always be questioning themselves, why didn’t we see the signs? Was there something we should or could have done? They will live lives of torment and torture for no other reason, other than that those less than human individuals just wanted to have some of their sick so called fun.
We do not have to tell the members of this web site, that even though Brodie’s law has been implemented, it appears to us that complaints regarding harassment and bullying are not effectively investigated and or enforced. Those Statutory Authorities that have been tasked, trusted and relied upon to investigate and enforce these laws must be held to account. They must be forced if not willing to undertake their statutory duties (on behalf of all citizens in the community) in a professional and effective manner, without adding insult to injury.
The information we have at this stage is that Sussan Corporation may well have a systematic regime of undue harassment and bullying. We have undertaken to investigate this matter in order to see where the truth lies and if proven to force changes in the way WorkSafe Victoria investigates claims of harassment and bullying. To that end, we look forward to any former employee or current employee with any information that could assist in our inquiry.
Psychological injury, whether it be clinical depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or any other injury of the mind, unlike physical workplace injuries, are difficult to investigate and even more difficult to prove in a Court of Law due to the Rules of Evidence, Statutory provisions and or case law. All workers need to be reminded of, and if not known, taught their rights under the law. It is all too late after the fact, that is, if the damage is done and then you later try to prove your case in court.
If you believe you are the subject of harassment or bullying, AND you suffer a psychological injury as a result of the harassment or bullying, you need to be able to prove your case in court. Now Court processes in Australia are in no way similar to what people see on American TV shows. You may believe that is a given and a stupid thing to point out, but you would not believe the amount of people we come across that ask us questions about things like, a right to a phone call and “Miranda Rights.” If you do end up in Court, you need to be able to prove your case in accordance with Australian laws and processes.
Having said that, proving your case in court is not a simple matter of sitting in a witness box, and trying to remember all the various incidents that caused your injury. Just YOUR WORD in the witness box may not and usually is NOT enough to establish your case. You will need detailed information. If you believe you are the subject of harassment or bullying we would suggest that you keep a detailed diary, of incidents, times, dates, locations, all the “He Said, She Said” details word for word. You should write these details down in your diary as soon as possible after the incident has occurred.
Do not forget to include all the details of any witnesses to the incident and their contact details. Collating “Evidence” for Court purposes is NOT an easy task and must comply with certain restrictions. People need to be educated in the fundamentals of how to gain valuable information that can be used as “Evidence.” Not all information available to you can be used as evidence for various reasons. We don’t want to go into the nitty gritty and bore you with details, so we have given you a very basic method of collating information that may well be used as evidence, by way of keeping a detailed diary.
We would strongly recommend that you not do anything illegal in attempting to obtain information and or evidence. For example, secretly recording conversations by way of electronic methods such as hand held tape recorders in your pocket without the other side’s knowledge. Under certain conditions, recording somebody without their knowledge is against the law and you may find yourself facing possible criminal charges.
However, you do not need the other person’s consent to record a conversation. That is if you make the other side aware that it is your intention to and that you will be recording the conversation as a way of keeping an accurate record of that conversation, in electronic format, it is NOT a criminal offence. If the other person chooses not to have that conversation after you have advised them it is being recorded, then that is a matter for them.
In short, if you are called into a meeting about your complaint, its investigation, or work performance as a result of you lodging a complaint about harassment and bullying you are entitled to electronically record any such conversation so long as the other side is aware that you will be recording the conversation. The same goes with Doctors and or specialists. Time and again, insurance company doctors and specialists treat injured workers with disdain and contempt. If you wish to do so you should be allowed to electronically record everything that is said in your consultation with that Doctor. That is the most accurate way to keep a record of what was said during the consultation as well as a way to make sure that the Doctor remains professional and courteous during your consultation.
There may be rare occasions where you may be able to record a conversation without the other side’s knowledge. That is stepping into a dangerous area of the law, and you may risk criminal sanctions. As an example of a rare occasion where it may be permissible to record somebody without their knowledge is, if you believe that you will have criminal allegations made against you by a party and in order to protect yourself from incrimination, you may be entitled to record your conversation without the other side’s knowledge.
Now be aware that this message is NOT LEGAL ADVICE but commentary. If you want specific legal advice on your specific situation, you will need to contact a legal advisor within your HOME JURISDICTION that has professional knowledge and competence in this area. As you will be aware, a website can be read from anywhere around the world and in all States and Territories of the Commonwealth of Australia.
This message in general terms is to thank the administrators and persons responsible for this website and to provide some small element of guidance in relation to making sure you can prove your claims. Laws in relation to these matters, whether it be personal injury, court processes, or evidentiary change from State to State in Australia and again more so internationally. So in short make sure you have competent legal advisors in your home jurisdiction if you believe you are the subject of bullying and harassment. Moreover, to make sure you obtain the best evidence possible without contamination of that evidence.
We end our message by thanking the administrators and owners of this website and for all those people out there who want to make sure that no other lives will be lost in vein. We also strongly recommend that if you are suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts please reach out and contact someone any one, remember that there are people out there that care for each and every one of you. Suicide is not the answer, it is not the way out, and you do have choices and options. Think of those people that you will leave behind and the pain and sorrow you will cause them.
Thank you to all of you that care.
PS Forgive us if there are any typo’s or grammatical errors in this message.[posted by Atlas Legal]
Complaint letters can be held against you!
Workcover have been known to use letters of complaint written by injured workers against them….
showing them to doctors and asking them to give an opinion that if they can write letters can they do an office job…
Beware of Workcover. They are a sick organisation that is bleeding internally and has no direction. It even needs its own policies to “ensure” that justice is fair for all injured workers – they have no morals, no ethics and no sense of fairness.
This has been validated by a lawyer as well!
I just came across an very interesting Forum about all things surveillance:
Some very handy hints can be found on here on their practices.
This may be crucial in tracing records that they may not wish to disclose or for questioning their practices as opposed to an industry standard…
One entry on that forum reads:
Not really a hint or tip but to say to the newbies keep some anti sting spray/ calamine lotion etc in the car, got a bit itchy today. To get a good view of my Claimant had to go crawling through the bushes. After kneeling there in the scrub for half an hr, not really dressed for it, got great footage and very itchy legs. Learnt my lesson”
Love the surprises Surveillance brings and never knowing where your day will go
“What would be the best way to search through MySpace and Facebook while still remaining invisible to the ones that you are trying to seek information on as I have noticed that to view the blogs posted by most people you firstly have to be registered.
Any tips or tricks would be greatly appreciated.
And the reply was:
“hey! create a fake account….befriend them…..i kno it sounds a lil tacky but hey u got to do wat u got to do to get wat u want hehe”
As you can see… they’re also unethical, immoral vultures.
Official looking forms-beware
One of the tactics employed by workers compensation insurers is to use official looking forms, often quoting or referring to copious amounts of legislation, then stating that completion of that form is mandatory.
Never, ever fill in such “forms” without first contacting your union or solicitor. The questions are designed to catch you out one way or another, to admit to something that favours the insurance company, or to contradict something you may have inadvertantly stated earlier.
In any case, do not provide anymore information than is legally required of you.[bastards, Nov 2011]
Workcover and privacy
When will all workers on workcover realise that Workcover, Insurers and their Lawyers can get any information they want about a person. Helloo! They have your Bank Account Details, Medicare details, Clinical details, Practioner details, Email details, Telephone details, the list is endless. They will even use the powers of the act to seize your medical records. It does not matter if you see your doctor privately also they will take all of the records and there is nothing that can be done about it.
One reason is that Workcover is exempt from the State Government Privacy principles.
Workcover are the goverment – wake up!
The insurer can gain any information they wish even the most private of information andespecially if there is possible litigation current or future from either the worker or the insurers side. They can and do get anything on a worker relevant or not.
Remember when a worker first makes a claim for workers compensation they sign away they right to privacy (read they fine print people).
They will not only follow and gain information on the workers they will follow Your friends, Your Family, Your colleagues just to find something on the worker that they can use to their own advantage.
Even under FOI you will not find out to what lengths workcover, insurers or their legals have gone to just to video tape or photograph you. Workers still need to carry out daily activities I mean you are not dead.
So eventually with enough looking and digging they will find a worker walking, smiling, talking, laughing, joking, etc but you can bet the cameras are mysteriously never there when your crying, angry, upset, in pain. How Funny not!
Looking for how or why workcover get the information and wondered why you can’t find out under FOI, wondered why parts are missing from your files, wondered how workcover knew where you were going to be at that exact time and place. Wondered who that strange person was striking up the innocent conversation. Thought to you were being watched or followed?
You will never know!
This is written and advertised on the VWA’s own website and clearly states why information is withheld.
If the documents were prepared by VWA, Agent or Self Insurer staff and disclose pre-decision discussion or options, and releasing the documents would undermine effective decision making or the scheme’s integrity (the so-called “internal working document” exception).
Dodgy Facebook Site
I found a Facebook site based in South Australia that seemed helpful with some good Workcover information but I was told at one point that they had Workcover employee’s posing as injured workers to get access to the site. They also told me that they had ‘Uni students’ approach them about doing a survey to help them with their studies. It turned out the ‘Uni students’ were also Workcover employee’s trying to gather information from the injured workers. Beware!!!!!![Anonymous injured worker, Nov 2011]
Never look a gift horse in the mouth
This “free beer thing” came up in the news in the last few days. Here’s
a link to it and similar stories:
Relevance? I once had a person come up selling health insurance and wanted to know a whole heap of personal stuff — none of which related to health insurance. In Australia private health cover is available to all, unlike in the USA where the insurance company can legally discriminate against certain groups of customers.
I knew that he wasn’t an official salesperson as he had no business cards or other official documentation. He was simply a private investigator looking to extract employment information and information on my movements from me.
I happily provided him with much false information. However, it would have been best for me to not speak with him at all — now the bastards know what I look like.
Advice: Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
[Anonymous, Nov 2012]
Medical Panel reports
Please ensure you READ carefully through a Medical Panel’s report or opinion. I recently received such a ‘report’ re permanent impairment assessment and was horrified at the number of errors in the said report. One of those was that my 6-7 cm long, ugly scar was NOT related to my injury!!!! But that I had said that it was an “old scar from 1991″ WTF??? Whilst I have undergone 7 major surgeries to my shoulder (work injury) and the last one for example involved transplant of leg hamstring tendons into my shoulder, requiring this huge incision. The Panel’s report just states that I have numerous “holes from arthroscopic surgery”….
Every scar counts towards a % for your impairment assessment. The longer and uglier they are the more % you will get. This shoulder scar should give me 1-2%. Every little bit counts when you are hovering close to 30% total body impairment and really need to get to that 30% so that you can start a common law damages claim (in Victoria) for pain and suffering and/or economic loss.
So, please read and re-read any medical Panel report, find any errors and point them out to your lawyer. Use surgical report, pictures, whatever other relevant material you have as evidence and have the error addressed ASAP.
About chasing the insurer for your compensation payout
As posted by Atlas Legal (article: My workcover claim has settled, so why is it taking so long for the money to come? by Laywer Mal Byrnes)
We welcome Mr Byrne and congratulate him on the great article he has produced. We look forward to a very productive relationship with My Byrne and all other members of this site in making the Workers Compensation regimes fairer for all Australians.
We would just like to highlight a particular issue and that is, at the end of the day, you have obtained a Judgement or Agreement in your favour and all the necessary steps have been followed as produced above in Mr Byrne’s article. Some insurers bring up spurious reasons not to make payment.
Now there are different methods with which to “Chase” your entitlements or “Enforce” the agreement / Judgement. A method that is rarely used is commencing “Winding up” procedures of your Employer Company.
Now that can be somewhat technical for the lay person, but a fairly straight forward process in the Federal Court of Australia for lawyers. The technical aspect involves the circumstances of how the Judgement / Agreement was obtained and what the reason/s are for the Insurer not paying.
Commencing wind up action in the Federal Court of Australia has certain advantages strategically, we don’t want to bore you with a long post so we’ll try and keep it short. Most importantly once wind up procedures are commenced all other creditors tend to jump in, the media focuses in on the Company and it’s solvency.
The reason being once a Company owes a debt to any entity and that debt is not paid when it falls due, it could well be held that the company is trading whilst insolvent.
That raises all sorts of other issues like the companies Directors Duties and Obligations. The company will be forced into answering why the debt was not paid when it fell due and whether the Directors have met their Duties and Obligations under the Corporations law.
This is just a small tip, there are other ways of recouping entitlements that insurers don’t pay on time as stated above but this is also one way.
Good Corporate Governance has been a big issue since the days of Alan Bond and Christopher Skase, and the Corporations law has been amended many many times since the mid 80′s. Effectively tightening the grip on companies so as to force them to act as good corporate citizens.
Just to reiterate what we have said in previous posts and for any new comers to this forum, we at Atlas Legal do NOT undertake Personal Injury Law matters.
We are here to support and assist the members on this site where we can, and add our voice of discontent to the many voices against these unjust Workers Compensation schemes around Australia.
Regards and welcome again to Mr Byrne.