Conciliation can seem confusing and stressful - but it is much easier if you understand the process.
When you are injured at work, you can make a no-fault WorkCover claim. The insurer is then responsible to pay for your reasonable medical expenses and in certain circumstances weekly payments of compensation. However, sometimes the insurer may refuse to accept your claim in the first place. Alternatively, you may have an accepted claim, but the insurer has refused to pay for certain expenses or weekly payments which you believe you are entitled to.
The Accident Compensation Act (the law which covers work injury claims in Victoria) states that the first step in resolving the dispute is to go to conciliation at the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS). Conciliation does not cost you any money, and is presided over by a Conciliator whose job it is to bring the parties together for discussions, but who has very limited powers to make decisions.
To request conciliation you need to fill out a Request for Conciliation form. While lawyers typically do not attend conciliations, you can organise for WorkCover Assist, or, if you are a union member, your union representative or Union Assist, to attend the conciliation with you. There is no charge for these services.
At the conciliation various outcomes are possible:
- The insurer may accept your claim or expense. Excellent!
- The insurer may offer a compromise for a limited period. Be aware that if you accept the compromise you may not be able to claim further payments or expenses. It is recommended you seek legal advice before accepting a limited period offer
- If there is a medical dispute, the matter may be referred to the Medical Panel. A Medical Panel opinion is binding so it is strongly advised you seek legal advice before going to the Medical Panel
- If the matter can not be resolved at conciliation, the conciliator may certify that dispute has not been resolved despite reasonable steps taken. You may now bring proceedings in the Magistrates Court if you wish to take the matter further.
You are welcome to contact our Adviceline on 03 9321 9988 for free advice at any stage of the conciliation process.