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Claiming Workers’ Compensation for Post-traumatic stress disorder in Queensland

By 26 October 2023News & Articles
Claiming Workers' Compensation for Post-traumatic stress disorder in Queensland

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can severely impact an individual’s life, specifically when it arises after experiencing a traumatic event at the workplace. For workers in Queensland, understanding the process of claiming workers’ compensation for PTSD is crucial.

What is PTSD in Queensland?

In Queensland, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is recognised as a psychological injury that may result from experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event while employed. The event might involve actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. It is important to note that PTSD is not limited to specific industries or occupations; the disorder can affect workers across various sectors.

PTSD can manifest with a range of symptoms, including intrusive memories or flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and changes in mood and behaviour. These symptoms can significantly impede an individual’s ability to perform their job and negatively affect their overall well-being.

How is PTSD determined in Queensland in the context of Workers’ Compensation?

In Queensland, workers who have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be entitled to claim workers’ compensation benefits. However, establishing a link between the traumatic event experienced at work and the development of PTSD can be a complex process.

Firstly, it is crucial to demonstrate that the traumatic event occurred during the course of employment. This can be verified by providing evidence such as incident reports, witness statements, or medical records. For example, if a worker in the construction industry witnesses a serious accident on a worksite that triggers their PTSD, they would need to provide documentation that confirms the incident and its connection to their work environment.

Secondly, it must be established that the diagnosed PTSD is a result of the specific traumatic event at work and not from any other factors outside of the workplace. This requires medical evidence from mental health professionals who can assess the worker’s condition and determine the causal relationship between the traumatic event and the development of PTSD. These professionals play a crucial role in evaluating the impact of the event on the worker’s mental health and providing expert opinions that support the workers’ compensation claim.

Workers’ Compensation claims for PTSD must be submitted to WorkCover Queensland, the state’s statutory scheme responsible for administering workers’ compensation. The claims process involves providing detailed information about the traumatic event, medical documentation, and other supporting evidence to demonstrate the impact of PTSD on the individual’s ability to work.

Once the claim is submitted, it undergoes a review by WorkCover Queensland. This review includes an assessment of the evidence provided, consultation with medical professionals, and consideration of any relevant legislation and guidelines. The aim is to ensure that the claim is assessed fairly and accurately, taking into account the specific circumstances of the worker and the requirements of the workers’ compensation scheme.

Understanding the Differences between Workers’ Compensation and Common Law Claims

Workers’ compensation claims in Queensland provide a no-fault scheme that enables injured workers to receive financial and medical benefits without having to prove the employer’s negligence. This system ensures that injured workers can access medical treatment, rehabilitation services, and weekly payments to compensate for lost wages.

Under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, workers are entitled to compensation for their work-related injuries, regardless of who caused the accident. This means that even if the worker’s own actions contributed to the accident, they can still receive benefits under the workers’ compensation scheme. For example, if a worker slips and falls due to their own carelessness, they can still receive compensation for their injuries.

Workers’ compensation claims are designed to provide a safety net for injured workers, ensuring that they receive the necessary support and financial assistance to recover from their injuries and return to work. The no-fault nature of these claims also helps to expedite the process, as there is no need to go through lengthy legal proceedings to determine fault.

On the other hand, common law claims require the injured worker to establish negligence or fault on the part of the employer. These claims provide an avenue for seeking additional compensation beyond the statutory benefits offered under workers’ compensation.

Successful common law claims can result in higher monetary compensation to cover pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and other damages. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, which are limited to specific benefits outlined in the legislation, common law claims allow injured workers to seek compensation for a wider range of losses and expenses.

Is there a Time Limit for Making a PTSD Compensation Claim?

In Queensland, there is generally a time limit for making a workers’ compensation claim for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The time limit is usually six months from the date when the individual became aware of their diagnosis of PTSD and its relation to their work-related traumatic event.

In addition to pursuing a statutory WorkCover claim, if negligence has played a role in your PTSD diagnosis, you may also consider initiating a “common law” claim. This legal avenue aims to secure lump-sum compensation for the following:

  • Past lost income and superannuation;
  • Future lost income and superannuation;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Medical treatment expenses, both past and future.

It’s important to note that you have a three-year window within which to file a common law workers’ compensation claim with the court. If you miss this deadline, it is advisable to consult a personal injury lawyers promptly, as there are certain exceptions to this timeframe that may apply to your specific circumstances.

How can GC Law Help?

At GC Law, we have a team of experienced compensation lawyers who can advise you today on a potential PTSD claim. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation and No Win-No Fee on all approved claims.

Get in touch