There are 2 parts to a workers compensation claim. The first part is the statutory claim (“compo”) and the second part is a common law claim (where you sue your employer for negligence).
To receive compo you need to lodge a Claim Form as well as a workers’ compensation medical certificate completed by your doctor. The Claim Form can be completed online, over the phone or in writing. You can find the relevant Claim Form here:
WorkCover will then decide whether you have suffered a work related injury and, if so, they will accept your claim and start paying you compensation. This will include weekly benefits (for at least a portion of the wages you are losing), all reasonable medical expenses and, if you end up having a permanent impairment, they will end up offering you a lump sum amount for that permanent injury.
In a common law claim, you can receive damages (ie additional compensation), which usually far exceeds any compensation that you receive under your compo claim.
To bring a common law claim, you have to be able to prove that your employer was negligent. Lodging an incident report immediately, taking photos of the floorboards and obtaining witness statements straight away will all help with that.
Before you can start your common law claim you have to wait until your compo claim is finished. You also cannot accept the lump sum offer you receive from WorkCover for any permanent impairment unless the impairment is 20% or more. Accepting the lump sum offer brings an end to any right to bring a common law WorkCover claim.
We would recommend speaking with an experienced workers compensation lawyer as soon as you receive the lump sum offer from WorkCover, if not before then, to ensure that you receive the right advice and guidance through that relatively complicated process.