WORKERS COMPENSATION LAWYERS FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL INJURIES

If you’ve sustained a psychological injury or condition in the workplace in NSW, you may be entitled to compensation. Psychological injuries can develop as a result of having witnessed a traumatic event in the workplace or over a period of time due to conditions within the workplace. Advantage Legal are expert workers compensation lawyers who can help maximise the compensation you are entitled to for your psychological injury under the NSW workers compensation scheme. Our team will spend time learning about your personal circumstances to ensure that all of your questions are answered in your time of need. We’ll manage your claim from start to finish and apply for funding from the Independent Review Office (IRO) so that you’re not out of pocket for our professional fees. Your claim is worth more with Advantage Legal.

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Understanding work related psychological injuries

Work related psychological injuries come in many different forms. Common causes of workplace psychological conditions include bullying, harassment, mistreatment, intimidation, racial or sexual vilification, excessive workloads, unreasonable work hours, lack of relevant training, breaches of workplace policies, workplace isolation, fear for personal safety at work such as during the COVID-19 pandemic and workplace trauma. The NSW workers compensation scheme compensates workers who have sustained a psychological injury in the workplace provided the injury was not wholly or predominantly caused by a reasonable action of an employer. Examples of reasonable actions of an employer include transfer, demotion, promotion, performance appraisal, dismissal/retrenchment, discipline or the provision of employment benefits.

If you’d like to know more about your NSW workers compensation rights and entitlements, book a free initial consultation with our senior team.

Psychological Injuries Frequently Asked Questions

Workplace psychological injuries can be quite complicated and can last for a prolonged period of time. Recovery is often slow and is prone to exacerbation whilst the cause of the injury remains present in the workplace. To help you understand more about your NSW workers compensation rights and entitlements, we’ve put together a series of frequently asked questions that we receive from workers who have sustained a psychological injury at work.

It is important to note that the answers to these FAQs are general information about the NSW workers compensation scheme only. The information provided does not take in to account your personal circumstances, your type of employment or the date of your injury/illness, so should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Injured workers who have sustained a diagnosable psychological or psychiatric injury which was not wholly or predominantly caused by the actions of their employer, may be entitled to compensation under the NSW workers compensation scheme.

Examples of workplace psychological or psychiatric injuries include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Adjustment disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress

For a psychological of psychiatric injury to be compensable under the NSW workers compensation scheme, the injury must not have been caused by the reasonable actions of your employer.

Some of the most common causes of workplace psychological injuries include:

  • Bullying and harassment
  • Mistreatment,
  • Intimidation
  • Racial or sexual vilification
  • Excessive workloads or work hours
  • Lack of relevant training
  • Breaches of workplace policies
  • Workplace isolation
  • Constant fear for safety at work such as during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Workplace trauma and/or violence

The entitlements available to workers who have sustained a psychological or psychiatric injury under the NSW workers compensation scheme include:

  • Treatment expenses
  • Home and personal care
  • Partial income replacement
  • A lump sum payment for permanent impairment
Workers who have sustained psychological injuries with a whole person impairment of 15% or greater and who can prove their employer was negligent may be eligible to pursue a work injury damages claim for a lump sum payment of their past and future income loss.

If you’d like to receive a free initial consultation and confidential advice from senior member of our workers compensation team, please get in touch.

The NSW workers compensation scheme permits a workers compensation claim to be lodged up to six months after an accident has occurred. Exceptions to this general rule exist if the injury or condition did not occur as a result of a specific incident, but rather as a consequence of the nature and conditions of employment over time.

It may still be possible for you to pursue a claim for compensation if this time limit has lapsed, however you must act promptly. For free confidential advice about your particular circumstances, book a free initial consultation.

The NSW workers compensation scheme places an obligation on employers to report any injury sustained in the workplace to their workers compensation insurer within 48 hours of being notified. Even in circumstances where a psychological condition occurred as a consequence of a traumatic event, it is difficult for an employer to be aware that a worker is suffering from a psychological injury unless it is reported. Injured workers should therefore report a psychological injury to their employer as soon as they become aware of it.

If you’ve sustained a psychological injury in the workplace, you should:

  • Seek treatment from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner such as a General Practitioner, Psychologist or Psychiatrist and obtain a formal diagnosis of injury.
  • Notify your employer of your workplace injury or illness.
  • Requestion your General Practitioner to complete a Certificate of Capacity.
  • Complete a Workers Injury Claim Form.
  • If your psychological injury occurred as a result of a sequence of events over time, prepare a chronology of events in date order, noting specific events that occurred and witnesses.
  • Seek legal advice from an expert workers compensation lawyer at Advantage Legal to understand your rights and entitlements.
Injured workers should also be aware that because psychological injuries do not always result from a specific event, but can occur over time, it is common for employers and/or their workers compensation insurer to conduct a factual investigation into the circumstances that led to the injuries once a formal report of injury has been made. You will need to cooperate with this investigation for a workers compensation insurer to accept liability for your claim. Where necessary, you may ask for a support person or legal representative to be present or to assist you with the investigation.

In NSW, the workers compensation claim form is called ‘Workers Injury Claim Form’. To lodge a workers compensation claim, you’ll need to complete this form and obtain a completed Certificate of Capacity from your General Practitioner that outlines your psychological condition, capacity for work and treatment requirements.

Both of these documents can be downloaded from www.sira.nsw.gov.au.

The NSW workers compensation scheme provides for two kinds of lump sum compensation payouts for psychological injuries:

  • A lump sum for permanent impairment
  • A lump sum past and future lost income
To be eligible to claim a permanent impairment lump sum for a psychological injury, an injured worker must have sustained a primary psychological condition assessed at 15% whole person impairment (WPI) or greater. A doctor trained in medico-legal assessments will assess your injuries and provide you with a WPI taking into account your personal circumstances. The WPI allocated to you equates to a fix sum of compensation specified in the NSW Workers Compensation Benefits Guide.

A lump sum claim for past and future income loss is known as modified common law claim or work injury damages claim. In order to be eligible to pursue such a claim, you must have sustained a primary psychological or psychiatric condition with a WPI of 15% or greater and be able to establish that your employer was negligent in the circumstances that caused the injury.

Please be aware that claims for psychological injuries can be subject to a number of different exceptions depending on when the injury occurred and the industry that you worked in at the time the condition developed. You should obtain legal advice before acting on this information to ensure that it relates to your particular circumstances.

For more information, contact our senior team for a free consultation.

Under the NSW workers compensation scheme, a work injury damages claim is a compensation claim for a lump sum payment made against a negligent employer for past and future income loss.

Injured workers must fulfil the following criteria in order to be eligible to pursue a work injury damages claim for a psychological injury:

  • Have sustained a primary psychological or psychiatric condition with a whole person impairment of 15% or greater; and
  • Be able to prove that their employer’s negligence was the cause of the injury or condition.

Our senior team of workers compensation lawyers provide a free initial consultation and advice to people wanting to confirm if they qualify for a work injury damages claim.

It is not compulsory to engage a lawyer to pursue a workers compensation claim on your behalf in NSW. Injured workers should be aware however that without a lawyer assisting you, you will largely be reliant on the insurance company to accurately calculate your wages, approve your treatment and to facilitate your return to work. In circumstances where you are injured, stressed and concerned about your future, you may overlook errors made by the insurer. Those errors could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

In November 2021, following intense media pressure, the state’s largest workers compensation insurer, ICARE, conducted a review of 16,000 injured workers case files. As a consequence, $38 million had to be repaid to 53,000 injured people due to errors made. What this repayment demonstrates is that insurance companies can make errors on a systemic scale. So whilst it is not compulsory to engage a lawyer, in circumstances where legal fees and disbursements are funded by an external body called the ‘Independent Review Office’ at no expense to an injured worker, why wouldn’t you seek advice on your rights and entitlements to ensure they are accurate?

To speak with a senior workers compensation lawyer about your claim, book a free initial consultation or submit an enquiry through our website.

In the majority of circumstances, workers who have sustained psychological or psychiatric injuries in the course of their employment are not charged legal fees or disbursements for their NSW workers compensation claim. Upon engaging an approved workers compensation lawyer like those at Advantage Legal, an application will be made for legal funding to the Independent Review Office (IRO). Once a grant funding is approved, you will receive legal advice, representation or both in accordance with the terms of the grant.

Injured workers who are eligible to pursue a modified common law claim, also known as a ‘work injury damages claim’, are typically represented by workers compensation lawyers on a ‘no-win, no-fee basis’. Injured workers are charged professional fees and disbursements in accordance with a document called a ‘cost agreement and disclosure’. Legal fees are usually charged on an hourly rate, stage fee or fixed fee basis, but only become payable at the conclusion of the claim, if the claim is successful. If you’d like to know more about ‘no-win, no fee’ agreements, please see our FAQ What does No-Win, No-Fee mean?

Injured workers should be aware that not all accidents and injuries are eligible for IRO grants. Factors such as the date of your accident and type of employment will impact your eligibility. If you’d like to know whether your claim is eligible for an IRO grant of funding, please contact our senior team for a free confidential consultation and advice.

No-win, no-fee is a common term in the personal injury legal industry, however there is no uniform definition of what it covers. For this reason, it is critical for injured people to review the terms of a no-win, no-fee agreement that a personal injury law firm offers.

Most commonly, a no-win, no-fee arrangement means that a personal injury law firm will represent you on your personal injury claim and only request payment of their professional fees at the successful conclusion of the claim.

The Advantage Legal no-win, no-fee promise provides more protection that other law firms across the industry. We promise that we’ll represent you on your work injury damages claim and only charge our professional fees and disbursements if we win. The reason we include disbursements in our no-win, no-fee promise is because we have no doubt that our senior team will win your case and maximise your compensation. It’s just one of many reasons why your work injury damages case is worth more with Advantage Legal.

For too long, we have seen injured people treated poorly in NSW by large law firms and insurance companies. At Advantage Legal, we believe that compensation is personal and requires a tailored approach. Our clients trust us to know them personally, be available when they need us and to get the best possible rehabilitation and compensation outcomes for them. We take this trust seriously.

Leigh Davidson 
Principal Solicitor​

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