What is the difference between a statutory and a common law workplace accident claim?

If you are involved in a workplace accident which results in an injury in Queensland, there are two types of claims that you can make, they are:

  • Statutory (no-fault) claims; and
  • Common law claims.

Statutory claims for a workplace accident

All claims made in Queensland must first be lodged as a statutory (no-fault) claim usually with WorkCover Queensland unless the employer is self-insured, in which case you lodge with the employer’s insurance provider.

Fortunately, as Queensland operates under a ‘no fault’ worker’s compensation scheme, it means that Queensland workers have the right to apply for statutory benefits, no matter whom or what was at fault for causing their workplace accident.

Statutory compensation (payments and benefits) paid under this scheme may include weekly payments as income replacement, lump sums to compensate for permanent impairment and/or hospital and medical expenses. Compensation is typically very limited and geared towards getting you back into the workplace.

Common law claims for a workplace accident

Contrast this to a WorkCover common law claim which involves an injured worker suing their employer for negligence. A WorkCover common law claim can only proceed after a statutory compensation claim has been lodged and accepted by WorkCover Queensland or the relevant self-insurer.

Common law claims operate substantially different to statutory compensation claims in that injured workers require a formal medical assessment of their injury, and employer negligence needs to be established. Where employer negligence can be established, compensation figures tend to be much more significant than those provided by statutory benefits.

It is also important to note that while you are trying to prove the employers negligence in a WorkCover common law claim, the Judge will also take into consideration how much you contributed to the injury by your own actions. This is commonly referred to as ‘contributory negligence’. Where the Judge finds that you have contributed towards the injury to any extent, then your award of damages may be reduced by a percentage to reflect your contributory negligence.

WorkCover common law damages may include compensation for economic loss, pain and suffering, legal costs and medical and hospital costs.

If you have had a workplace accident and would like advice on lodging your WorkCover statutory compensation claim or common law claim, contact our offices for a free consultation with one of our Brisbane personal injury lawyers. You can contact our office on (07) 3252 0011 or through our general enquiries page.

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