In the West Australian workers compensation system injured workers are required to obtain progress certificates of capacity from their general practitioner which indicates whether they are fit for work, are undertaking medical treatment and will require medical treatment into the future. Medical certificates indicate whether the injured person should take part in a return to work program and whether restriction should be imposed on their ability to work.
Generally, medicals certificates from a person’s general practitioner very short and in situations general practitioners tend to continuously cut-and-paste from previous medical certificates. It is often that the general practitioner will not change the content of the certificate for several certificates.
While there is some space on progress certificates of capacity for general comments by the general practitioner there is not much space on the medical certificates. General practitioners are time constrained and are unlikely to fill out the full extent of the injured worker’s medical condition on the certificate.
The general practice of workers compensation insurer is in Western Australia is to obtain comprehensive reports from doctors, occupational physicians, orthopaedic surgeons, indicating whether an injured person has a current capacity for work.
These medical reports are often much more comprehensive than medical certificates. They will generally state the reasons for a person’s diagnosis, whether the injured person is fit for work in their preinjury role, and whether there is other work for the injured person.
The situation is therefore that where an adversarial scenario develops, the insurer will have a report that is detailed, and an injured person will generally have certificates that are more frequent but are not as detailed.
If an injured worker and a workers compensation insurer cannot resolve the dispute in relation to a workers compensation claim, one party will lodge an application with WorkCover WA, the workers compensation court in Western Australia. If the matter proceeds to an arbitration hearing where a final decision is made, medical witnesses are not called to give evidence and an arbitrator will analyse the evidence. Where general practitioner certificates are not detailed they will usually fall short on this point, making it easier for the reports produced by the insurer to be preferred by an arbitrator.
It is therefore preferable in a personal injury claim to obtain detailed reports from general practitioners or other suitable specialists.
Foyle legal is a personal injury law firm specialising in the area of workers compensation claims and work injuries and has experience appearing for injured workers in the Conciliation Division and Arbitration Division of WorkCover WA, the court for workers compensation in Western Australia. If you have made a claim regarding a work injury or you have made a workers compensation claim then Foyle Legal may be able to assist you on a no win no fee basis and at Foyle Legal your first attendance is obligation free.
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