In 2012, changes were made to the workers’ compensation laws, which came into effect on 31st December, 2017. As a result of these changes, over 8,000 injured workers in the New South Wales region lost weekly benefits.
One of the major changes brought about by the review of this law is that WorkCover was ditched and replaced by WIRO or workers’ compensation independent review office, which is headed by Kim Garling.
According to the new law, injured workers had to prove that they were at least 20% impaired to continue enjoying weekly benefits, failure to which they would lose their benefits even if they were unable to fully return to work.
Most people consider these changes unfair because the government enacted this legislation, which would end the payment of benefits to injured workers after only 5 years of the injury, regardless of whether or not injured workers are eligible for lifetime support due to their injuries.
On April 16, 2017, a story in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the changes meant that only injured workers with a whole-person impairment assessment of at least 21 per cent would continue to enjoy benefits after 5 years.
Kim Garling, the head of WIRO, noted that injured workers who were nearing the 260th week of injury benefits payments would stop receiving their benefits the day after Christmas of 2017.
He further noted that injured workers have the right to challenge their impairment assessment done by their insurer. They can also apply for funds from WIRO to pay for independent medical reports and legal advice. WIRO can pay as much as $750 to approved lawyers for legal advice.
Services Offered by WIRO
WIRO provides injured workers with the help they need to successfully file complaints against super funds and insurers to ensure their cases are resolved amicably and quickly.
For the Employee
When dealing with insurance companies, injured workers can easily get frustrated. The mountain-load of paperwork, repeated inquiries and frequent delays are some of the issues that can overwhelm injured workers.
Fortunately, WIRO can offer a lifeline to injured workers. WIRO can help with all kinds of issues that injured workers and their families may face after a work-related injury. This includes issues with the payment of weekly benefits, denied claims, delayed determination of claims, low PIAWE determination, reduced payments and work capacity decisions among other things.
It’s important to note that WIRO can only help workers with issues touching on their insurer, and not their employer. If a dispute is with the employer, it may not be within the mandate of WIRO. However, outside counsel can help resolve the issue.
For the Employer
When employees are having a problem with their workers compensation claims, they usually turn to their employer. Unfortunately, this can put the employer in an uncomfortable position because they would like to help the injured worker, but it’s not their mandate. The best thing for employers to do is refer the injured worker to WIRO.
Besides, employers may have their own issues with workers compensation insurers, including:
- actions taken or not taken by the insurance company in relation to work comp
- the denial or acceptance of a workers’ compensation claim
- acceptance of liability
- calculation of insurance premiums
- handling or management of claims
The Effect of WIRO on Compensation of Claims in NSW
WIRO has been in place since 2017. Its main role is to streamline and improve the efficiency of the claims handling process. The NSW government set up WIRO to help make the process of pursuing compensation easier.
There are many cases where insurers usually turn down or reject claims for compensation from injured workers. There are many reasons why claims may be rejected, but WIRO was put in place to ensure that any injured worker who is entitled to full injury benefits gets what is due to them.
Dealing With a Variety of Workers’ Compensation Claims
According to Safe Work Australia, 117,815 serious injury claims were filed across the country between 2012-2013. The incidence rate had dropped by 6% from the year 2000 to 2012.
It is not a surprise that labourers accounted for the biggest fraction of these injuries, followed by machine operators and professional drivers.
According to WIRO’s performance statistics of April 2013, back injuries were the most common type of injuries that led to workers compensation claims. The second most common type of serious injury was hearing loss, followed by shoulder and psychological injury.
WIRO’s Complaints Handling Process
One of the main WIRO requirements is that all appeals must first be handled directly by the insurer. This is where our experienced workers compensation lawyers come in. WIRO will only pursue workers compensation claims that have been rejected and all other options have been explored.
WIRO will only take up the case if your case has met these requirements. WIRO will be objective when looking at the factors surrounding your case. Our team will be in constant communication with both WIRO and your insurer to ensure every box has been checked while pursuing all other available avenues for compensation.
After trying to deal with the complaint that has been raised by the injured worker, WIRO will make recommendations and offer directions on how to proceed. The ultimate goal of WIRO is to ensure that all workers compensation cases have been dealt with quickly and in a just manner. Ideally, this should happen within just 30 days.
Every case will be dealt with individually using a wide range of Alternative Dispute Resolution methods. In case these strategies fail, WIRO will conduct a formal investigation and write a detailed report on the issue.
If you have been injured at the workplace and feel like the workers’ compensation laws are unfair to you, or you are experiencing problems going through the fine print of the policy document, you should get in touch with a workers compensation lawyer or a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you get some justice.