Re injured after returning to work
If you are re injured after returning to work, what you will need to do will differ depending on:
- whether you have an existing WorkCover claim or not
- whether you want to lodge a claim
- how you reinjured yourself
This page will explore the issues further.
Table of Contents
If you already have a WorkCover claim for the injury
If you have been off work because of an injury and then reinjure yourself after returning to work and you already have a WorkCover claim (which has been accepted) for the initial injury, here’s what you need to know:
The first thing is that you need to decide whether you wish to claim under the existing claim or whether you wish to lodge a new claim.
This depends on the circumstances of the reinjury.
It also depends, to a certain extent, on the status of your original WorkCover claim.
Circumstances relating to the re injury
Lets say that you suffered a shoulder injury due to heavy lifting.
You then lodge a WorkCover claim and take some time off work.
The shoulder problem never resolves, although it does improve somewhat.
You then return to work after a few weeks and ‘reinjure’ the shoulder.
In this situation, given that you had not long lodged a claim for the original injury, it might make make sense to claim under your existing shoulder injury WorkCover claim, rather than lodging a new claim.
Compare this to this situation:
If the shoulder injury had resolved or mostly resolved and you had been off work for months, then it’s possible that the appropriate course of action would be to lodge a new claim relating to the aggravation of the original injury.
It is important to note that in Victoria under the WorkCover scheme, you do not need to have completely new injury. If you aggravate a pre existing injury, you can lodge a new claim specifically relating to that aggravation injury.
The important thing that you need to show is that the aggravation (or reinjury) has caused a change in your condition.
Here’s an example:
Using the shoulder injury example above, lets say that prior to the aggravation injury, your shoulder injury was a 4 out of 10 in terms of the pain, restrictions etc.
After the aggravation of this injury, it then gets worse and goes to an 8 out of 10.
If after the reinjury or aggravation of this injury it remains at or close to the 8 out of 10 level, then it’s possible that the right thing to do would be to lodge a new claim rather than relying on the old claim.
However, the shoulder reverted back to the 4 out of 10 level after a couple of weeks, then potentially you may be best claiming under the old claim.
As you can see, deciding whether to lodge a new claim or to claim under an existing claim after a reinjury can be quite complex and as such we would recommend that you get advice from a WorkCover lawyer.
The status of your original WorkCover claim
Having a new WorkCover claim accepted relating to a reinjury or aggravation results in your WorkCover entitlements to weekly payments, medical expenses (and to a certain extent, impairment and common law claims) reset.
Here’s what we mean:
If you had an accepted WorkCover claim for your shoulder injury and as a result of the injury your ability to work was impacted such that you had to remain off work for a period of time.
During this time you were claiming weekly payments from the insurer and reached the 130 week mark.
If you lodged a new claim relating to the reinjury and if it was accepted (and was accepted for weekly payments in addition to medical expenses), then your entitlement to weekly payments would reset and you would be able to claim payments from the start.
This is provided that your incapacity for work relates to the reinjury / aggravation injury and not the original injury (this is sometimes very difficult to determine and it is something that doctors can have difficulty with).
Similarly, if you had previously obtained lump sum compensation in the form of an impairment claim relating to the original shoulder injury and you reinjure yourself and have an accepted claim relating to the reinjury or aggravation, you potentially have an entitlement to another impairment lump sum claim relating specifically to the reinjury.
This also applies to common law claims but would typically happens with common law claims is that instead of having separate claims for each injury, if the injury happened with the same employer the claim might be based on you having suffered injury over the course of your employment.
If you do not have a WorkCover claim
If you have reinjured yourself after returning to work and you don’t have a WorkCover claim for the original injury, you need to decide whether you want to lodge a claim at all.
If you do wish to do so here are your options;
- You can lodge a claim for the original injury and a separate claim for the reinjury at the same time.
- You can lodge a claim for the aggravation injury only.
- You can lodge a claim for the initial injury only.
- You can lodge one claim covering both injuries (usually only applicable if both injuries occurred in the same or similar way eg: using the same piece of machinery).
Again, deciding whether to lodge a claim can be complex and the best thing you can do is to get WorkCover advice.
Speak to your doctor
If you have been reinjured after returning to work it is very important for you to speak to your doctor.
You will need to discuss with them how the reinjury happened so the doctor can assist you, as best as they can, to ensure that you don’t cause further injury.
If you have a WorkCover claim they will probably provide you with a certificate of capacity allowing you to take time off work, or limiting the work that you do (either by way of limiting duties or hours).
If you return to work and are re injured, if you have an existing WorkCover claim you can claim under that claim.
As an alternative, you can lodge a new claim relating to the re injury (or aggravation).
Whether to claim under the old claim or whether to lodge a new claim will depend upon the nature of the injury, how you re injured yourself, and the status of your original WorkCover claim.
If you don’t have a WorkCover claim and you re injure yourself and you wish to lodge a WorkCover claim, you can lodge separate claims for the original injury and the aggravation injury, you can lodge a claim for the original injury and not the re injury (or vice versa), or you can lodge once claim relating to both injuries.
You should speak to your doctor if you have been reinjured, as well as getting WorkCover advice.