In Western Australia, a Worker’s Compensation claim remains open indefinitely until such time as the parties can reach a settlement agreement. It is often the case that workers’ compensation insurers will inform and injured person that they claim is closed. It is important to realise that this means that the insurer has closed the claim administratively on this system, it does not mean that the injured person no longer has any legal rights.
There are several common ways in which an injured person can settle their workers’ compensation claim. I have set out some of these ways below.
By correspondence in writing
It is common for Worker’s Compensation insurance to make an offer to settle a worker’s Compensation claim. Injured people should be aware that these offers are usually very low. It is common for workers’ compensation insurers to make an offer comprised of money for their disability based on a relatively low assessment, a small amount for medical treatment and nothing more. This of course does not stop the injured person from writing back in making an offer of their own.
This is probably the easiest way to settle a workers’ compensation claim for an injured person who is not legally represented. The reason is that after receiving an offer, the injured person can take time to research, and seek legal advice to ascertain whether the offer is reasonable.
Informal conference with the Insurer
Another common way of settling the Worker’s Compensation case is by an informal conference with the workers’ compensation insurer. This typically involves the injured person meeting with the Insurer at their offices. The injured person (and their support person if any) will be placed in one room, and the insurer, and the employer will be placed in another room. Offers are exchanged between the parties and settlement can be achieved on this basis.
WorkCover WA settlement of claim
WorkCover Western Australia is the tribunal for Worker’s Compensation claims in Western Australia. In the workers ‘compensation system it is often the case that parties cannot agree regarding a matter associated with the whack as compensation claim. Some of the situations include the following:
- The employer and the workers’ compensation insurer will not except liability for a workers’ compensation claim
- An employer and a workers compensation insurer have excepted liability for a claim, however, subsequently discover new evidence and now wish to deny liability;
- An employee and a workers compensation ensure a believe that a worker has not recovered from the effects of their injury and wish to discontinue weekly payments of compensation; and
- The Worker’s Compensation insurer does not agree to pay medical expenses associated with a Worker’s Compensation claim.
The first stage of the dispute resolution process is called a conciliation conference. At this stage the parties try to resolve the matters in dispute, it is common for offers of settlement to be made at this time. If the matter is not capable of resolution at a conciliation conference then the matter moves onto an arbitration where a final decision by arbitrator is made.
Settlement as part of district court proceedings
In limited circumstances an injured worker can pursue a common little claim against their employer, on the basis that their employer was negligent or breach this debt to treat duty to the worker. It is generally quite difficult to pursue a common little claim against at employer, as the injured worker must obtain an assessment from an approved medical practitioner that their level of whole person impairment is not less than 15%.
After the necessary documentation has been filed in the District Court of Western Australia, and documentation has been exchanged between the parties, the matter is listed for a pre-trial conference where offers are usually made to settle the common law claim. If the matter is not capable of resolution at a pre-trial conference, then it is possible for the matter to be listed for another pre-trial conference if the parties agree. If the parties do not agree then the matter progresses towards a trial were a final decision is made by Judge.
Foyle Legal specialises in the area of personal injury law including workers compensation claims and provides legal representation on a no win no fee basis. Foyle Legal also provides an obligation free case assessment for personal injury claims including workers compensation claims.