The role of WorkCover Western Australia is to resolve disputes centring around a work injury between injured workers, employers and insurers which include acceptance of liability, disputes regarding weekly payments and disputes regarding the payment of medical expenses.
At WorkCover Western Australia, legal proceedings for the resolution of a dispute are divided into a two-step process, the first step is conciliation, generally involves the parties meeting at WorkCover Western Australia in an informal setting in which they attempt to settle the application or the claim in general with the assistance of a WorkCover W.A. conciliator. In the event that conciliation is not successful, the matter moves on to the second stage which is called Arbitration.
Arbitration is a formal court hearing and the rules of evidence, as varied by WorkCover Western Australia arbitration rules apply. At Arbitration, a WorkCover Western Australia Arbitrator will hear the parties regarding the matters in dispute and will make a formal decision about those matters which is binding on the parties. There are a couple of major differences in giving evidence at WorkCover Western Australia which are different to the way a party would give evidence in a court hearing which are outlines below.
Rules in respect of medical evidence
In WorkCover Western Australia much of the dispute in most matters relate to medical evidence. In a court, such as the district court of Western Australia, if a party wishes to rely on a medical report they are required to call the medical practitioner as a witness to give oral testimony unless the report can be admitted by consent. This is not the case in WorkCover Western Australia. It is not necessary (and usually not permitted) to call a medical practitioner as a witness and the medical report stands as evidence without oral evidence being necessary.
Another difference between the common law system and the WorkCover Western Australia system, is that in the WorkCover Western Australia system parties are limited as to the doctors that they can rely on in proving their workers compensation claim. A party cannot rely on more than three doctors in Proceedings, and cannot rely on more than one doctor from an area of medical practice. For instance, a party cannot rely on more than one orthopaedic surgeon. One exception is that generally injured workers can rely on reports of different General Practitioners from the same medical centre. This rule is subject to an overriding power given to a WorkCover arbitrator to allow additional evidence, even though he would be in breach of this rule.
It is often the case that injured workers have medical report from more than one kind of a specialist type. For example they might see general practitioners from two different medical practices. In this case it is important for injured workers to assess the evidence to decide which will be the most useful to them in their workers compensation claim.
Evidence of lay witnesses
If a party wishes to rely on evidence of a lay witnesses arbitration, they must file a statement of that lay witness which is in writing and signed. This applies to the evidence of the worker as well as other lay witnesses. The evidence in the statement generally stand as the evidence in chief of that witness and generally that witness will not be allowed to give additional testimony so it is important to state everything that the witness wishes to say in the statement including a full description of the work injury and events that have happened since.
This information should be regarded as a very general introduction only and is not a substitution for proper legal advice from a solicitor. Foyle Legal recommends that anyone who is involved in WorkCover Western Australia proceedings or is considering taking out those proceedings should obtain advice specific to their own circumstances. This summary does not profess to provide a full detail regarding the WorkCover Western Australia rules and it is important to know that there are vast amounts of law involved in the workers compensation system.
Foyle Legal specialises in the area of workers compensation law in Western Australia and takes on workers compensation claims on a no win no fee basis.