Unless you are the most safety conscious and co-ordinated person on the planet, as well as being possibly the luckiest, at some stage during your life chances are you will be involved in some kind of accident or injure yourself while working. You may even be unlucky enough to have an accident while visiting friends, playing sport or just enjoying a day out with your family.
If this happens it is important to know what your rights are, particularly if you are seriously injured or likely to be off work for any length of time. Depending on the circumstances of your accident you may be able to claim compensation and in some instances be entitled to a lump sum amount for pain and suffering and any ongoing loss and damages you may suffer.
Different accidents = different types of claims
Where you live, where the injury occurs and the type of incident that resulted in your loss and damage may all have an effect on what type of claim you can make and the amount of any compensation you receive.
Examples of some of the types of injuries, accidents or situations that may entitle you to compensation include:
- Accidents at work – Workplace injuries are subject to compensation regimes including payment of lost wages and lump sum payments for permanent disabilities and pain and suffering. Depending on where you live, work place injuries that occur while you are travelling to or from your place of employment, may also be covered by relevant workers’ compensation legislation in your State or Territory. In some instances, specific types of employment, may entitled you to additional protection;
- Self-employed and injured – If you are self-employed and injured while working you may have a claim for compensation even if it isn’t a claim for workers’ compensation. For example, if you are a roof tiler and working on a client’s home and fall through the roof because the roof beams are rotten (and were not advised of this and could not have foreseen this problem) then you may be able to make a claim on the homeowner’s home insurance policy.
- Motor vehicle accidents – If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident (and are not the driver at fault) you may be able to receive compensation under the at fault driver’s third party policy of insurance. Motor vehicle accident compensation covers a wide range of situations including where you are a pedestrian injured by a motor vehicle;
- Sporting and leisure activities – Injuries that occur as a result of sporting and leisure activities may be covered by either common law or legislation. In some states activities that are designated as being ‘dangerous’ may be excluded from compensation. However, it is always wise to seek legal advice before assuming that a claim will not be possible. Some states have specific legislation covering sporting activities and many sporting bodies and clubs take out specific accident insurance to cover registered players so again, it is always worthwhile seeking legal advice if you have suffered this type of injury.
- Home owner’s insurance policies – While no-one likes to think about suing a friend or relative, if you are injured while at someone else’s home, you may be able to be compensated for your injury under the public liability section of any policy of home insurance they have.
- Permanent & Total Disablement policies – Many people have permanent and total disablement insurance policies but are unsure as to what is covered and when a claim can be made. In addition, a considerable number of superannuation schemes have these policies in place for members who may not even realise they have this as an option.
The list above is by no means exhaustive and if you or someone you know has been injured we would be happy to chat with you to assess whether there may be a right to compensation.
Why you should seek legal advice
Sometimes an injury that seems minor at the time it happens can end up being much more serious than originally expected and the consequences, for both the injured person and their family, can be devastating. Entitlements and the time limits allowed for making a claim can vary between states and territories.
Differences in time limits for giving notice of claims and commencing legal proceedings as well as compensation thresholds (how injured you need to be to receive compensation) can also vary depending on whether the injury occurred at work, as a result of a motor vehicle accident or in some other way.
Time limits can be critical and, in some cases, if a time limit deadline expires before a claim is made any right to compensation may be lost. It is therefore important to seek legal advice as soon as possible after any accident to ensure you do not compromise any rights to compensation you may have.