Every business is required to hold workers compensation insurance, or WorkCover, to cover them if their employees are injured or become ill on the job.
Most people think of physical injuries when they think of WorkCover, but there are other harmful injuries that staff can sustain in the workplace – including mental health injuries.
If you suffer a psychological injury as a result of your work, you may be eligible for workers compensation. But it’s essential to understand exactly what a psychological injury is – and how to prove it.
What is a psychological injury?
WorkCover Queensland defines a workplace psychological injury as a disorder or illness that affects your mood, feelings, thoughts or behaviour that has resulted from your job’.
This can include things like depression, anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
This injury could occur after one traumatic incident, like an armed robbery, or over time due to things like:
- bullying and harassment
- excessive workloads
- lack of training
- toxic work environment
- breaches of policies and procedures.
Proving your claim of a psychological injury
Making a successful WorkCover claim for psychological injury can be harder than for a physical injury, as you need to prove several factors.
Did you suffer a psychiatric illness or psychological disorder?
Just claiming work stress is not enough. You need a diagnosis of a recognised psychiatric illness from a healthcare professional who specialises in these conditions – not a GP.
Was your employment a ‘significant contributing factor’ to the injury?
You must prove that the injury was due mainly to your work. Did your employer breach their duty of care towards you as an employee?
When deciding whether your work was a significant contributing factor, the insurer or court will consider the type of work, duties, work hours, risks and your lifestyle outside of work, as well as any pre-existing conditions.
Did the injury arise from ‘unreasonable management action’?
Your claim may be rejected if the injury arose from reasonable action by your employers, such as a demotion, discipline, transfer, retrenchment or dismissal. You need to prove that employer’s actions were unreasonable.
If your claim is successful
You may be eligible for weekly payments and medical expenses, and a lump sum payout for permanent injury (statutory entitlements). If you don’t get a lump sum, you may also receive common law damages for past and future lost income, superannuation and more.
If your claim is rejected
If your claim is rejected, you can request a review of that decision by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator within three months of receiving the insurer’s decision.
Getting help while you wait
It’s essential to get the treatment you need while the insurer decides your claim. From 1 July 2021, workers claiming mental injury can access up to 13 weeks of provisional payments to cover medical treatment while your claim is being assessed. These payments can continue beyond 13 weeks if the claim is successful.
Getting professional legal support
In 2019–20, more than half of the psychological injury claims brought to WorkCover Queensland were rejected. (See WorkCover’s annual statistics report.)
So if you have suffered a psychological injury due to your employment, seek legal assistance to get the advice you need to make a successful claim.
At Main Lawyers, our worker’s compensation lawyers have many years of experience in helping claimants get the compensation they’re entitled to. So whether you’re just considering making a claim, or your claim has been rejected and you’re seeking a review, contact us today to get the best possible outcome.