The field of injury compensation law can be vast and confusing, so we asked Hugh Dahlitz, a local Queanbeyan-based lawyer at RMB Lawyers, some questions about the topic.
What are the various causes of injury that may be eligible for compensation?
There are many schemes of compensation available depending on the circumstances of your injury.
If you were injured by the defective manufacturing or design of a product – you may be able to access compensation through negligence, or under the Australian Consumer Law scheme.
Again, say you are playing football and you get badly injured after a tackle: you may have a right of compensation against the person who tackled you in trespass; against the organiser in negligence; or through the statutory sporting injuries insurance scheme.
So are there more injury causes covered by some sort of insurance than people might be aware of?
There are a number of “no fault” insurance schemes in New South Wales that can provide you with alternative, or sometimes additional compensation.
Most importantly, your super fund will have a Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) scheme if you are permanently unable to work because of a serious injury or illness; and an income protection scheme that will pay out a percentage of your usual income if you’re injured temporarily. You have to opt in to these covers, but that can be a significant safety net for you and your family in hard times.
Another example, is the NSW Sporting Injuries scheme. This can give you lump sum benefit if you’re seriously injured while participating in a sporting activity, so long as the organisation is a member of the scheme.
What affect have changes to worker's compensation in NSW had?
In June 2012, the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme was substantially amended. The popular notion that ‘compo’ was as much a disincentive to return to work as a support to those who were genuinely injured provided justification for terminating long-term support for all but the most seriously injured workers.
As it stands, the effect is that for two and a half years after their injury, a worker with either no capacity, or limited capacity for work will have some entitlement to a proportion of their wage, and to reimbursement of medical expenses. After this period, an entitlement will be extremely difficult to maintain for all but the most seriously injured.
In addition to these sweeping changes, there were amendments that effectively terminated workers compensation for those injured while travelling to and from work; and any entitlement to lump sum compensation for ‘pain and suffering’ associated with an injury.
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What sort of time limits do people need to be aware of?
The limitation period for compensation varies depending upon the legal stream your claim is running down. Generally speaking, a three year limitation period applies to a claim for personal injury. However the time limits are much stricter for workers compensation and motor vehicle accidents, and depending on the circumstances can be as limited as six months.
If someone believes they might have a compensation case, what is the first thing they should do?
Knowing which path to take to obtain compensation is difficult for laypersons and lawyers alike. But RMB has travelled every path and we have the skills and expertise to take you down the one for you. The first thing to do is to contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation.