Employees of the Commonwealth and prescribed large businesses are covered by a no-fault workers compensation scheme called Comcare. If your employer is covered by this scheme and you are injured by reason of your work, you can only claim compensation under the Comcare system – meaning that you cannot claim WorkCover.
Comcare is very similar to WorkCover with some important differences. The key differences you should know are:
- If you are incapacitated for employment, weekly payments are payable indefinitely to the age of 65. The first 45 weeks of weekly payments are paid at the same rate at which you were paid prior to injury. After 45 weeks of weekly payments they will reduce to 75% of your ordinary pre-injury earnings.
- Comcare cannot require you to sign a medical information release authority in their favour. They can submit you to medical examinations but they do not have the right, without your permission, to access your medical history. You do not have to give Comcare this permission.
- In addition to your weekly payments, you are entitled to receive a lump sum impairment payment. In order to receive this payment you must be considered to be suffering from a 10% whole person impairment assessed in accordance with the Guide to the Assessment of the Degree of Permanent Impairment Edition 2.1. There is no distinction between physical and psychiatric injuries. Important things to note are:
- For physical injuries, this assessment is usually more favourable than WorkCover.
- There is no minimum threshold for total loss injuries to the fingers, toes or your sense of taste or smell.
- The minimum impairment to receive a hearing loss payment is 5%.
- If you intend to sue your employer for damages you must not accept a lump sum permanent impairment payment. This is because, under Comcare, you are required to make an election as to whether to proceed with a lump sum impairment claim or a common law claim. You cannot proceed with both. The common law claim is restricted to a maximum payment of $110k and is payable for pain and suffering only. This is very low compensation comparative to WorkCover however this process under the Comcare system is arguably much simpler.
If your employer is covered by the Comcare scheme and you need advice about how to proceed with a claim, call one of our expert injury lawyers on (03) 9321 9988 to discuss which avenue will achieve the best outcome for your work injury.