Employer Negligence and Personal Injury Compensation

work compensation work accident claimsWhen injuries have occurred, personal injury compensation may be awarded. Firstly, there are the statutory benefits which may include work compensation, hospital and medical expenses and rehabilitation expenses. There may also be other out of pocket expenses covered.

Secondly, there is injury compensation of a non-statutory kind. This compensation is under common law and entitlements vary between States and Territories across Australia. The way the legal system works means you may be worse off because of where your accident took place. Adversely, you may be better off if it happened in a particular State. In some parts of Australia thresholds apply. The extent of the injury may have to reach a percentage of impairment threshold in order to qualify.

A common law claim is a lump sum larger than a statutory work compensation payment. Injured workers usually go to common law when they have a serious or permanent injury and if it was preventable had the employer taken the right preventative steps.

You may or may not be entitled to work compensation under common law. Your rights will depend on the following;-

• The State or Territory in which your injury happened
• The extent of your injury and whether or not the injury is permanent
• The economic impact the injuries have on your life and your ability to earn an income
• Who or what is to blame for the injuries and whether or not the injuries could have been prevented

Negligence and economic losses need to be clearly proven. As a case example, a cyclist suffered injuries to his back and knee when he was hit by a taxi driver. He worked in and had owned several bicycle shops. He would never be able to work again or run a shop again of his own. Proving economic losses was a little difficult. The plaintiff relied on evidence from an accountant to present the Court with two situations. One scenario was where the plaintiff had owned a bike shop for the rest of his working life and the second scenario was if the plaintiff had worked in a bike shop for the rest of his working years. This hypothesis helped to determine his future economic losses. The plaintiff also claimed for gratuitous care as his wife was caring for him.

The outcome of the case was that the cyclist was awarded injury compensation under common law. The plaintiff was awarded for economic loss, which was less than requested and the gratuitous claim was rejected as there was insufficient evidence that the wife had been providing care for 6 hours each week.