Not all workers are aware that they can claim for compensation if they suffer an injury while travelling to and from their place of work, known as ‘journey claims’.
In this article, we’ll look at what’s required to make a successful journey claim, which our professionals at GC Law can help you with if any of the information in this post applies to your personal situation.
Firstly, a journey claim is possible if a worker is injured:
- travelling to or from home and their workplace;
- travelling to or from a place of training related to their employment;
- travelling to or from medical or rehabilitation undertaken as part of a WorkCover workers’ compensation claim;
- travelling between jobs with different employers, or;
- travelling on work-related business, either locally, interstate or internationally.
While in certain circumstances an injury sustained at home before you begin your journey can be claimed for, this injury can not be the subject of a journey claim. For this kind of claim to be successful, the journey must be directly between your home and place of work, or training location, without any major delay or deviation, or if travelling outside your normal work route, your employment must be a significant contributing factor to your injury.
What compensation can a journey claim provide?
A journey claim resembles a typical workers’ compensation claim for an injury that occurs at work. Medical and rehabilitation expenses; the costs of travel to and from medical appointments; paid care and assistance while you are recovering from the injury; and wage benefits between 80 to 100 per cent of your normal gross salary are part of a successful journey claim.
Statutory lump sum payments are also available in the event you’re permanently impaired and unable to return to work, or your capacity to do your old job is reduced.
Like any workers’ compensation claim, medical assessment of your injury as soon as possible after the accident is crucial in order for your claim to go forward. Either at the time you see a doctor or shortly afterwards, a work capacity certificate needs to be obtained from the treating doctor to be included with the application for compensation.
The journey-related injury should also to be reported to your employer as soon as possible and it’s likely the employer’s accident reporting procedure will need to be followed. In some cases it may also be necessary to report the accident to police, and any police report of the accident obtained.
Making a journey claim also requires that an employee is classified as a worker under Queensland’s Workers Compensation Act, meaning an individual employed under a contract and considered an employee for tax purposes.
A journey claim under the state’s workers’ compensation law is ‘no-fault’, meaning the application will be accepted provided you are classified as a worker and as long as none of the following circumstances apply to your claim:
- you did something unlawful during the journey for which you’re claiming that significantly contributed to the injury-causing accident;
- there was a significant delay before you started the journey, or;
- you made a substantial interruption or deviation from your usual journey, such as visiting a supermarket en route, for example.
These exceptions aside, your journey claims must be filed with WorkCover within applicable time limits, supported by relevant evidence.
It should be noted that in situations where a worker is involved in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver on their way to or from work, it’s possible to also make a personal injury claim against that driver’s CTP insurer alongside the workers’ compensation claim. Where the accident was not the fault of the worker, the CTP insurance of the driver at fault will reimburse the workers’ compensation insurer for the workers’ claim.
Real-life examples of journey claims
In the 2012 case of Sharon Olive Johnston v QComp, a nurse who left home for work before realising she had forgotten her ID card then fell down stairs at her home after she’d returned to retrieve it. Workcover Queensland, QComp and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission rejected her claim for compensation of the injuries she sustained under the Act, arguing that her first journey had ended once she returned home and her work journey had not re-commenced as she had not left home when the injury occurred. The Industrial Court subsequently upheld this decision, reinforcing that a journey for the purposes of work is terminated by the boundaries of a worker’s residence and their workplace.
By contrast in the 2012 case of Kennerley v QComp, a Qantas flight attendant who was in a car accident while traveling to renew his United States work visa outside of work hours initially had his journey claim for compensation rejected by the airline. Q-Comp then set aside Qantas’ decision before the airline won an appeal at the Industrial Relations Commission. Mr Kennerley finally appealed to the Industrial Court of Queensland who found that even though he was not performing work for Qantas or even on his way to work on the day of the accident, he ‘was doing something which he was reasonably required, expected or authorised to do in order to carry out his duties’. He needed the US visa in order to travel for work and this caused him to be on the road when the accident occurred, meaning his injuries were suffered in the course of his employment and his employment was a significant contributing factor to the injury.
Unsure whether you have a journey claim? Call our expert team
Expert legal advice is essential if you’ve been injured travelling to or from work. Insurers will often vigorously challenge the claim that the worker’s journey was connected to their employment duties, particularly if there is any deviation from the usual route. They may also challenge whether a person is a ‘worker’ for the purposes of the Act and question the severity of the injury.
Strict time limits also apply to these claims, the application needing to be lodged with WorkCover Queensland no later than six months after the injury is sustained or is known.
The complexity of these claims mean the expertise of legal professionals with experience in collecting the evidence required to support your claim is vital. Contact our friendly team of personal injury lawyers at GC Law today.