What Benefits Are Workers Entitled to Under Workers’ Compensation?

Once you have been approved for workers’ compensation, the next step is to determine what benefits you are entitled to. The benefits you receive should help you financially while you’re recovering from your injury, as well as help you to return to employment once you’re finished.

There are a number of benefits that can help you in this difficult time. If you’re interested in learning about workers' compensation benefits, keep reading for the four main benefits you need to be aware of.

1. Income Replacement Payments

Income replacement is often the most common benefit that you’ll get from workers’ compensation, and it’s often delivered in the form of weekly payments. Income replacement payments aim to replace your lost earnings during your time off work, but there are limits to these entitlements that might mean you still lose out on some money. Income replacement payments are calculated using a percentage of your earnings, and this percentage is often reduced after a set period of time.

You may also choose to receive a one-off payment that you’ll get in a lump sum, and this will replace your ongoing weekly payments. You and your insurer both need to agree to this lump sum, and this will often be referred to as a settlement or redemption payment. There might be a criteria you need to meet to be accepted for the lump sum settlement payment.

If you choose to elect the settlement amount, your weekly income replacement payments will cease along with the insurers’ liability. However, some jurisdictions won’t allow this to affect medical and other similar expenses. Income replacement arrangements differ depending on what territory you’re in, so make sure you know what you’re entitled to depending on your area.

2. Costs of Medical and Hospital Treatment

You may also be entitled to payments covering the costs of medical and hospital costs, assisting you in your recovery without the stress of hospital bills. It also helps you get the rehabilitation and medical services that you need, that you might otherwise turn down due to the costs.

Most injuries that happen in the workplace will need some kind of medical assistance, and you might even need to remain in the hospital for a period of time while you recover. There are several workers’ compensation schemes that can help with your medical bills, and they might even help with other payments such as home help, attendant care, and home modifications.

3. Permanent Impairment Entitlements

Most workplace injuries heal fully within a certain timeframe and allow the employee to return to work after rehabilitation. However, in some more uncommon instances, you may have sustained an injury that leaves permanent, lasting effects. In these cases, you might be entitled to permanent impairment compensation, which you’ll receive along with your income replacement payments.

Permanent impairment benefits come in a lump sum amount, like a settlement, for each injury and impairment you’re left with. This money is to cover non-economic loss, such as loss of mobility or health.

4. Death Entitlements

In the event that a workplace injury results in death, all territories offer access to death entitlements for significant others or dependents. You may be entitled to certain payments to assist with funeral costs and ongoing living expenses if your family member has passed away after a workplace incident.

The amount you could be entitled to will differ between states and territories. You can check how much you’re entitled to on Safe Work Australia’s website depending on your territory, and whether you can receive a lump sum or periodic payments.

Do You Have Access to Common Law?

Before statutory workers’ compensation schemes were put in place, injured workers needed to sue their employers under common law if they wanted to receive benefits. There were no caps placed on the sum they could receive, but there was also no guarantee that they’d receive anything. The introduction of workers’ compensation schemes means that many more people have access to statutory rights without the risk of dealing with legal fees with no payoff.

Many territories have now either abolished access to common law or introduced caps on how much can be awarded for damages. However, some injured workers still want to pursue common law. If you do this, you might need to reimburse your employer for any statutory benefits that may have already been paid.

Final Thoughts

There are four main benefits that you can receive through workers’ compensation. Income replacement payments are most common to replace the loss of wages. You may also be able to get your medical bills paid for or a settlement for permanent damage from workplace injuries. If your spouse has passed away due to workplace injury, you may also be entitled to death settlements for dependents. 

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Posted - 05/22/2024