My workers' compensation claim has finished, but I cannot return to my job - what do I do?
If at the end of your workers' compensation claim you are not able to return to work with your employer, you should contact Centrelink as soon as possible to register for Newstart, Disability or Sickness Benefits.
Alternatively, you may hold disability insurances attached to your superannuation scheme or through other private insurance arrangements. You should make enquiries with these entities as to whether you have a claim for income protection payments.
Further, if you are suffering severe financial hardship, you may be able to draw on your superannuation and you should make enquiries with your superannuation fund to see how you may be able to apply for release of funds in the case of hardship.
If you have a mortgage, credit card repayments or car repayments etc, you may have disability insurances attached to your mortgage or loan agreements which can assist you whilst you are unable to work due to your injury. You should look into this with your lenders.
It should be pointed out that many workers think that WorkCover or the self-insurer is required to get you back to work after an injury. Although return to work programs are usually part of rehabiliation provided in workers' compensation claims, where an injured worker is no longer suited to the work they were doing prior to their injury and cannot return to it, WorkCover is not obligated to find the worker alternate employment. As indicated above, the workers' compensation insurer is only required to maintain wage payments and funding for medical and rehabiliation treatment until such time as the worker's injuries are stable and stationary. After that time, WorkCover's obligation ends whether the worker is back at work or not.
At the end of your workers' compensation claim, the workers' compensation insurer may issue you with a Notice of Assessment setting out an impairment assessment for your work injury. If your injury is assessed at more than a 0% impairment, you will also be offered a lump sum payment for your work injury. If your degree of permanent impairment stated in the Notice of Assessment is 20% or more, you can take the lump sum offer (for the injuries assessed at 20% or more only) and still make a common law claim. However, if the assessment of permanent impairment is less than 20%, you cannot both accept the offer and make a common law claim. You must make an election. It is therefore very important that you contact The Personal Injury Lawyers for legal advice at this time, before making any response to the Notice of Assessment or any Lump Sum offer made. If you respond incorrectly, you may lose all right to claim significant compensation for your work injury.