Angela Sdrinis is a personal injuries accredited specialist who has been pursuing commonwealth compensation claims since 1982. Angela and our team of Comcare lawyers can provide expert advice in all Comcare matters. Even if your claim is accepted you still need expert legal advice as to whether you are receiving your correct entitlements. If your claim is denied, you will almost certainly require legal assistance. Angela Sdrinis Legal pursues all matters on a strictly no win/ no fee basis* and this means that you are not required to contribute to or pay for any costs or disbursements (out of pocket) expenses associated with investigating and/or pursuing your claim. This means that if you do not get a successful result, there is no charge.
The Comcare scheme covers Commonwealth Government employees and workers of some national employers who have been granted licenses under the Comcare scheme. National companies whose employees are covered by the Comcare scheme include Telstra, Australia Post, Linfox, TNT, Pacific National, John Holland, NAB, CBA, CSL, Visionstream, K & S Freighters, Optus, Thales and others. If you are not sure if you are covered by the Comcare scheme a full list of current licensees can be viewed at http://www.srcc.gov.au/
Workers covered by these national schemes can claim:
- full pay for 45 weeks and 75% thereafter
- medical and like expenses
- household, gardening and attendant care services
- lump sum compensation of up to $243,329.42
- common law damages of up to $110,000 under the Comcare scheme
- Common law damages of up to $138,000 under the Seacare scheme
- death benefit of up to $504,449.16
NB lump sum compensation and common law damages are payable in addition to weekly payments of compensation which can continue to normal retirement age.
The Claims Process
If you injure yourself at work, it is important that you complete an incident report as soon as you are able to. You should also see your doctor and make sure that you give an accurate history of how the injury occurred and that the doctor understands that your injury occurred at work. If you need time off work or you have incurred medical expenses, you should complete a worker’s compensation claim form. Claim forms can usually be obtained from your Manager/Team Leader/Supervisor. Comcare claim forms can also be downloaded from the internet. Most licensees will have specific forms that will need to be completed. If you are claiming for time off work, you will need to attach to the claim form a medical certificate of capacity which should be completed by your doctor. You should ensure that your claim form refers to the same injury that is specified on your medical certificate. The claim form will also ask you if you have ever suffered from a similar injury, illness or symptoms. It is important that if you have had a similar injury/health condition and/or symptoms that you disclose any prior condition. Failure to disclose similar prior injuries or health conditions can result in a denial of liability for your injury or if liability is accepted, you can be required to repay all compensation paid.
If you are injured at work, your employer may require that you attend the company doctor. You have the right to seek medical treatment from a doctor of your choosing and cannot be compelled to be treated by the company doctor. However, your employer does have the right to medical information about your injury/health condition and can seek a report from your treating doctor or require you to attend “reasonable” medical examinations with an independent medical examiner.
Once your claim is lodged, your employer or its insurer is required to issue a determination regarding liability. Unfortunately, there is no time limit under the Comcare scheme within which liability must be determined. Employers have up to 30 days to determine claims under the Seacare scheme. Workers covered by the Comcare scheme have been known to wait months before determinations regarding liability are issued. If your employer has not made a decision regarding your claim within 30 days, you should seek legal advice. Similarly if your claim is denied it is important that you obtain legal advice as a request for reconsideration must be lodged by a worker within 30 days of receiving a determination.
If denial of liability for your claim is maintained, the next step is to issue proceedings in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Angela Sdrinis Legal will give you free legal advice about whether you have a claim with reasonable prospects of success if proceedings need to be issued in the AAT.
If your claim for compensation is denied, you should access your leave entitlements which will be re-credited if your claim is ultimately accepted. However if it becomes necessary to issue proceedings, it can be many months before liability is determined. Many workers now have income protection or salary continuance cover which means that you can apply for income support through your superannuation fund whilst you are unable to work. If you have no salary continuance cover and your leave entitlements expire, you can apply for Centrelink benefits.
There is also a limited right to sue for damages under the Comcare Scheme being a maximum payment of $110,000 for pain and suffering only.
Australian seafarers who are employed in national or international waters are covered by the Seacare Scheme which is largely based on the Comcare Scheme. Notable differences include time limits faced by employers in determining claims. In addition, the maximum payment for common law damages under the Seacare Scheme is $138,000.
Angela Sdrinis Legal also acts for members of the CWU Victorian T & S Branch in relation to Comcare matters. www.cwuvic.org.au
Phone and skype appointments available. Register your Comcare inquiry here.
Links: Comcare http://www.comcare.gov.au/
Defence Force Welfare Organisation http://www.dfwa.org.au/
CWU postal division www.cwuvic.asn.au
CWU telecommunication www.cwu.org.au
Phone and Skype appointments available. Home or hospital visits can be arranged. The first consultation is free and all work is done on a “no win/no fee” basis*.