Workers Compensation

How to make a successful WorkCover claim for stress

By LHD Lawyers

One in five Australian employees will take time off work because they feel mentally unwell, according to a 12-month study conducted on behalf of Beyond Blue. And the National Health and Safety Commission confirmed that the longest stretches of work absenteeism are now due to work-related stress leave.

Stress has become a normal part of daily life, and short-lived or infrequent exposure to low-level stressors are not likely to lead to harm. That’s why stress itself is not considered an injury.

However, when stressful situations reach an extreme level, the impact on an affected worker can be serious, and induce long-term mental and physical ill-health.

Have your work stress levels become so severe that they’re making a noticeable difference to your health and safety? If they are, you may be eligible to claim workers compensation for injuries and symptoms you’ve incurred as a result, and for Workcover stress leave you’ve had to take.

 Is work-related stress covered by workers compensation?

 Yes, work-related stress is covered by workers compensation. After musculoskeletal injuries, work-related stress hasbecome the second most compensated illness in Australia. In 2015, $480 million was paid to Australian workers who made claims related to workplace mental disorders, with 90% of claims attributed to mental stress. And the numbers – for both cases and compensation – continue to grow.

What do I have to prove to get a successful Workcover claim for stress?

To get work-related stress covered by workers compensation, it has to be shown that your psychological symptoms and injuries have created significant negative changes to your life, and that they were caused by experiences and pressures directly linked to your workplace – not to problems in your personal life.

Some of the more common, successful Workcover claims for stress were because of:

  • Extreme stress-inducing scenario/s experienced as part of regular duties, for example, a tragic road accident that led to a first-responder developing post-traumatic stress disorder; or
  • Workplace conflict with a manager or colleague; or
  • Sexually harassment, bullying or physical assault; or
  • High and constant levels of work pressure (such as hours or responsibilities) that are greater than they can manage
  • Threats to job security such as the potential for redundancy

What one worker might find excessively stressful, though, another might not. With each case potentially so different, it can be a challenge to prove, and therefore secure, compensation for psychological injuries.

A strong claim for compensation always begins with an accredited specialist diagnosing you as suffering from a psychological injury. Seeking medical help as soon as possible is critical – both for your claim and for your overall mental health.

You then need to show that it was a particular aspect of your job that caused your diagnosed injury. Even if you can show a causal link, your employer may still be protected if they can show they took reasonable steps to fix the problem.

To claim for Workcover stress leave or any other benefits available via Workcover, you must inform your employer of your diagnosis within 30 days of receiving it.

If you believe you are suffering from a stress-related injury, it is important to seek legal advice to understand your rights and entitlements to compensation.

What compensation would you be entitled to for a stress leave claim?

To begin with, you could be eligible for paid time off work without using up your regular sick leave entitlements. Weekly payments and funds for medical-related expenses can also be available to help you with your treatment and recovery.

If you are experiencing a reduced capacity to work, you can claim an appropriate percentage of your regular pre-injury wage.

A lump sum benefit may also be available from Workcover if you’re suffering from a permanent injury that’s unlikely to ever improve enough for you to do work at your previous full capacity.

If it can be proven that your psychological injury was the result of negligence by your employer, you might also be able to sue your employer for a Work Injury Damages lump sum. 

How much is the payout for workers compensation stress claims?

The amount of compensation you could be entitled to depends on the extent of your injuries and your individual situation. Our lawyers have years of experience in handling Workcover cases and will be able to give you an accurate idea of your potential entitlements. At the same time, they will also know what things are necessary to focus on to help you get your mental health back on track.

Make a stress leave claim today

LHD Lawyers help everyday Australians receive the benefits they’re entitled to for stress leave claims. We are so confident in our abilities to win your

case that we stand firmly by our No Win No Fee Policy: if we don’t win, you won’t pay. Call 1800 838 481 for a no-obligation consultation about your case.


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