In the Western Australian workers compensation system stress claims are very common. Most workers compensation stress claims have liability pended by the workers compensation insurer and if liability is accepted at all then it takes several months or even years. In most situations liability is not accepted.
Private workers compensation insurers’ in Western Australia
It is Foyle Legal’s observation that most private insurers will not accept workers’ compensation stress claims as they are very hard to control. Once a person is on compensation payments it is difficult to say with any degree of certainty whether that person is fit for work. This contrasts with the situation with physical injuries where to a much greater extent a person’s physical work restrictions can be objectively determined.
A recent article in Perth Now commented on this issue. In the article it states:
While both public and private sector employers have seen a reduction in workers’ compensation claims for physical injuries over the past few years, stress claims continue to grow.
The issue is a major headache for employers because stress related claimants are off work for much longer – on average 148 days - and the average cost per claim is almost double at $73,895.
Acceptance of claim arising from a specific event
Generally liability for a claim will only be accepted by private if there is a specific event, for example a person sees another person die and they have Post – Traumatic Stress Disorder. These make up a relatively small amount of stress claims which mostly arise from perceived bullying or other work stressors.
Workers compensation stress claims for public servants
The government workers compensation insurer, RiskCover, has a better track record of accepting workers compensation stress claims than private insurers. While this is the case we should point out that in Foyle Legal’s experience the acceptance rate is not high.
In our experience many of these stress claims come from occupations that are public facing such as teachers and prison workers, however, many claims it is also quite common for claims to arise due to disputes between staff, especially between workers and their managers.
Common problems with making a workers compensation stress claim
Section 5 of the Workers Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 defines the term ‘injury’ and says that it does not include a disease caused by stress if the stress wholly or predominantly arises from a matter mentioned in subsection (4) unless the matter is mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection and is unreasonable and harsh on the part of the employer;
Section 5(4) states:
(4) For purposes of the definition of injury, the matters are as follows —
a) the worker’s dismissal, retrenchment, demotion, discipline, transfer or redeployment; and
b) the worker’s not being promoted, reclassified, transferred or granted leave of absence or any other benefit in relation to the employment; and
c) the worker’s expectation of —
d) a matter; or
e) a decision by the employer in relation to a matter, referred to in paragraph (a) or (b).
It is common for injured workers to have at least some of these considerations when making a stress claim and therefore it is important to get proper legal advice about a stress claim.
Foyle Legal Compensation Lawyers specialises in the area of workers compensation law in Western Australia and takes on workers compensation claims on a no win no fee basis. You can contact Foyle Legal on 0408727343, by email at christian. [email protected]
or you can visit our website at https://foylelegal.com.