What is the difference between a workers’ compensation (WorkCover) statutory claim and a common law claim?

There are two type of claims that you might consider making if you are injured at work in Queensland.  These are:-

• Statutory Claims; and
• Common Law Claims.

All claims must first start as a statutory claim. WorkCover is the insurer for most work places in Queensland, however some employers are self-insured.


The statutory claim system is a ‘no fault’ system.  This means that injured workers may make a claim for benefits regardless of who is at fault for their injuries.  Statutory benefits include payment of income lost as a result of the injury, medical and treatment costs, travel expenses and a lump sum to compensate for permanent impairment caused by the injury.  Lump sums offered at the end of a statutory claim are usually quite small.


A common law claim can only be started after a statutory claim has been lodged and accepted by WorkCover (or the self-insurer).  To be eligible for compensation in a common law claim a worker must be able to prove negligence on the part of the employer.  In most cases, injuries in the workplace are avoidable, which usually will entitle a worker to pursue a common law claim.

In a very small number of claims, a worker may need to have sustained a certain degree of permanent impairment to be eligible for common law compensation.

Where a worker is able to establish negligence against the employer, compensation will be awarded at a significantly higher amount than the lump sum offered at the end of a statutory claim.

Common law damages will include amounts for pain and suffering, economic loss and future medical treatment.

WorkCover laws are very complicated and it is important that you seek advice from an expert personal injuries lawyer as earlier as possible to ensure that you receive your maximum entitlements.

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