“How much is my workcover case worth?” Is a question we receive very often from seriously injured workers. It is a very difficult question to answer because the “commercial value” of your case depends of many factors, and each case is unique.
The restrictions placed on injured workers who want to claim common law damages against their employers vary across states (jurisdictions). An injured worker can seek damages (by means of a common law claim) if they believe they suffered a serious injury due to their employer’s fault (negligence), but in most states they have to meet certain (harsh) thresholds. The following post gives a quick overview of common law damages claims.
By sharing his/her story, the following seriously injured worker highlights again the common“myths” about those ignorant people who think that because you have been seriously injured at work (and are entitled to a common law damages claim) you “will be set up for life” or “it will be like winning the lottery”. Wrong!
In this article, we’ll outline the main benefits of settling an injury (common law) damages claim OUT of court. In doing so we also wish to highlight that in some cases, injured workers may well believe that their case is worth much more than the workcover insurance company is willing to pay, and also believe their case is worth much more than it is actually worth. Indeed injured workers hear or read stories about large settlements and/or court verdicts and may get caught up in the (very expensive) litigation process.
In Victoria, the impairment threshold for a primary psychiatric injury is a whopping 30%. Only if you have been assessed as suffering from a “serious” primary psych injury (i.e. 30% WPI or more) can you obtain a lumpsum in Victoria (currently around $77,000). What’s worse, if you cannot sue for additional compensation under common law if your injuries are NOT the fault of your employer (or any other person), leaving many severely psychiatric injured workers with very little or no compensation at all.
In September 2014, Peter Doulis, a Victorian teacher driven to the brink by unruly students including one who made a flamethrower in class has been awarded around $1.3 million in compensation by the Supreme Court, by means of suing the state government for damages under the negligence/common law. Many ‘stress’ victims were gobsmacked at the size of the amount in compensation awarded. Let’s have a look at what the $1.3 million compensation awarded really means for Mr Doulis (and anyone else in a similar situation.)
What have the 7 deadly sins to do with your lawsuit? They are simply easy to remember warnings to litigating injured workers (aka Plaintiffs). We’re not trying to save your injured soul, rather your workcover case (i.e. common law claim, any litigation). In other words: if you ignore these seven deadly “sins” you will probably sc*w up your case.
Even when you have been awarded a serious injury certificate in Victoria (or elsewhere) for both pain and suffering and economic (pecuniary/future earnings) loss for a common law claim, your lawyer may advise you to drop the economic loss part of your claim and to only pursue the pain and suffering claim. This brief article explores the potential reasoning for not pursuing the economic loss part and to stay on workcover (weekly payments) instead.
Do you, like Judy, read legal cases or stories involving considerable sums of compensation payouts to injured workers and wonder why it is that you did not receive any such compensation (payout) from workcover, even though you are badly injured and may never work again? If you do, read on as we’ll explain how this “compensation” works in Victoria and hope it all makes some sense.
This interesting legal case (QLD) highlights that, in awarding future economic loss, a Court can take into account that an injured worker must disclose his/her injury and claim history to any prospective employer, putting the injured worker at a very significant disadvantage when competing with able bodied applicants in an attempt to find new employment.