Workers Compensation exists to cover employees who are injured during the course of their work. This helps reduce the stress of work-related injury and illness by replacing income, covering medical expenses and awarding permanent impairment payments. So, what happens when you are injured on your way to work?
If you have suffered an injury while travelling between your home and your place of work, you may be eligible for compensation.
Where can out-of-office injuries occur?
Not all work takes place in an office or business premises, and not all work-related injuries happen at the place of work. In fact, work injuries outside the workplace can still be eligible for a claim. A workers compensation claim may be awarded for an injury that takes place while:
- on a lunch break;
- on your way to or from training or a conference that relates to your work
- travelling to a client meeting
- on your way to or from a medical or rehabilitation appointment related to an existing workers compensation claim
- travelling between your home and place of work
- travelling to a second or third job with a separate employer; or
- on intrastate, interstate or international travel for work-related reasons.
When can I claim workers compensation?
To be eligible for workers compensation for an injury occurring outside of the workplace, there are some limitations to be aware of. Whilst travel between your home and work is included, you can only claim if your injury happens on your way to the workplace from home, without deviating or taking an unreasonably long time on the journey.
If your injury happens at home before you have commenced your travel to your place of work, then you will not be compensated. If you are working from home as part of a flexible working arrangement, however, you may still be eligible for workers compensation.
In the instance that you are travelling outside your usual work location (such as on travel in another state or country), you must be able to prove that you were injured during the course of your employment at that location.
When can’t I claim workers compensation?
In Queensland, you will not be eligible for workers compensation if you were in breach of the law when the injuries occurred. For example, if you broke a road rule while driving to work and were involved in an accident as a result of breaking that road rule, you would not be eligible for workers compensation.
Other instances where you may not be eligible include if you deviated from your usual route to work or if the injury occurred too long before the actual leg of the journey to the workplace began. For example, you decided to run some errands or attend a non-work-related appointment between leaving home and heading to work.
I’ve had an accident in a work vehicle. Am I covered?
A motor vehicle accident in a vehicle belonging to your employer carries the same rights as if you were driving your own vehicle. Depending on the facts of the case and who was at fault, you may be entitled to compensation in the same manner you would be if the accident took place outside of your regular work hours.
Your employer may have their own policy pertaining to the use of their vehicles, so if you have been injured in this type of accident you should check with your employer first.
I work for someone who self-insures. Am I covered?
Your employer has an obligation to have some type of workers compensation insurance to cover employees who sustain an injury during the course of their working duties.
Although WorkCover is the usual workers’ compensation insurer in Queensland, if your employer is a self-insurer, their insurance may be with another provider.
If you do work for a self-insurer, then your rights do not differ from those employed by an organisation that is covered by WorkCover. This includes the right to contact an independent body to review a claim for compensation that is denied. If you are injured at work, the only difference in the process will be that you would need to lodge a claim with your employer rather than WorkCover.
Who pays for compensation if my workplace is uninsured?
It is illegal for an employer to not take out some type of workers compensation insurance. If your employer does not have insurance with WorkCover or another insurer, then they are breaking the law.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have been injured at work and your employer does not have workers compensation insurance, you should still contact WorkCover immediately. If your claim is accepted, then you will still be entitled to lodge a claim for compensation from them and WorkCover will recoup the compensation back from the employer if you are eligible.
If you’ve been injured outside of work and need advice on claiming workers compensation, our experienced workers compensation lawyers in Cairns can help.