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Home » Injured Workers » Useful Information » Gaining Legal Advice

Gaining Legal Advice


When You May Need A Solicitor.  The Things You May Need To Ask


If you sustain a minor injury, cut sprain etc., don’t require time off work, or if you do make a return to full duties with no long term problems you are unlikely to need legal support.  If all parties do what they are supposed to do and are supportive and reasonable the chances of dispute are minimal and the need for advice unnecessary. Unfortunately in the workers compensation system unless the injury is relatively minor ( 85% of injuries resolve within a couple of weeks)  the situation for injured workers  (and for that matter their employers) can get exceedingly complex and difficult. Advice and guidance through situations may be required.


Where to go for help when you have a problem:


  • In first instance on matters such as having a claim lodged and a claim number received the matter should be dealt with the employer.

  • If there is a delay in the process or a claim is not lodged by the employer, a call to WorkCover’s hotline  may be necessary

  • For matters concerning weekly wages not being paid,  travel expenses, medication cost etc., the insurance company should be contacted in first instance( and probably second instance) . If problems persist a call to WorkCover's help line is required

  • If problems are encountered with the manner of the claims officer in the insurance company -  a complaint to the supervisor in first instance can be helpful.  If this doesn’t yield results, a written complaint to the insurance company cc to WorkCover will at least get the matter investigated properly

The circumstances where a solicitor may need to be engaged includes:

  1. Denial or suspension of a claim following a decision made by the insurer if you think the decision is not reasonable

  2. When your injury does not get better  and you are left with permanent impairment.

  3. When  your benefits are cut or suspended following a work capacity assessment that you don’t think is reasonable and you are unable to work or find a job

  4. When support for a treatment or procedure is refused that you and your doctor consider is reasonably necessary

  5. When the insurer and / or employer requests you do work that is contrary to you medical certificate and capabilities and your attempts to  have your concerns listened to are ignored.


A number of the legislative changes regarding injured workers entitlements were overviewed in the doc what are the Changes to Workers Compensation.  We suggest you read it and the doc “About Workers Compensation in NSW   to get an understanding of what you are, or are not likely to be entitled to if you sustains an injury at work. 



Prior to the recent legislative changes  legal costs for representation by lawyers was paid for by the “ system”  Currently costs will be still paid for :


  1. Supporting a claim for permanent impairment provided the impairment is above 10%

  2. Work capacity disputes ?? There is uncertainty as to whether costs will be covered or available to dispute Work capacity assessment findings under the new system.



Under the old system in NSW, injured workers legal costs would be paid for when:

  1. Supporting a claim for permanent impairment

  2. Disputing a denied claim

  3. Disputing a refused treatment

  4. Disputing a section 40 assessment decision- a assessment that determines how much ongoing wage payment should be made by basement of you theoretical earning capacity post injury minus the wage with what you used to get.



If you were injured before 1st June  2012 you will need to clarify your entitlements with a solicitor.



Choosing a Solicitor


When choosing a solicitor there are number of considerations:

  1. Whether you injury occurred before or after the 1st June 2012 in NSW for example?
  2. Is the solicitor registered with Workcover -  prior to the new legislation solicitors were not required to be registered -  now only solicitors who are registered with WorkCover can be funded by WorkCover?
  3. What do you need the solicitor for -  some solicitor are more willing to help you with day to day dispute issues  and give advice than others. Some solicitors will help you to get a lump sum claim for impairment but are less helpful with other matters?
  4. When you ask some oquestions - do they give clear easy to understand advice?
  5. Are they willing to put advice -  even general advise (such as fees and charges, information about workers compensation in writing)?
  6. When you asked about time frames do they give you clear information and feedback?
  7. Ask about extra costs you will have to pay such as for reports and how much it will cost?
  8. If the solicitor says they will pay for legal report costs ask how much extra you will have to pay on settlement. 



Questions re: For an injury where symptoms remain after 6 months:


  1. I am injured at work in xxxx circumstances -  what are my compensation benefits?
  2. What are my entitlements?  e.g. wages, treatments  for how long
  3. How long does it ask from when there are medical assessment of impairment undertaken to settlement and payment
  4. What costs are likely for me -  legal, reports?


Questions re: Denial of claim:


  1. What are my rights,  appeal?
  2. Time frames - chances of success?
  3. How long will it take to get an answer?
  4. Will I get wages?
  5. Will I get treatment paid?


Questions re Common law - Down the track:

  1. What is common law action?  Under what circumstances?
  2. What is involved?
  3. What are the risks?
  4. Costs?
  5. How long until final settlement?
  6. What steps are involved?
  7. What is the range of damages I can expect to receive?
  8. Before costs are taken out?
  9. After?
  10. What are my obligations in getting treatment - participating in rehabilitation between now and settlement?
  11. I am worried that if I do a course or fitness, the program they may use this as a way of reducing my claim?  Is this true? 
  12. If I refuse to do courses participate in rehab etc  how will it effect my claim and liability now and at time of settlement

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