Anne was 56 and had been nursing for more than 30 years. While she and colleagues were moving a patient onto a theatre bed, Anne felt a sharp pain in her shoulder.
She’d had aches and pains before and assumed that like those minor pains this one would disappear in a few days.
It didn’t. After some physiotherapy, pain medication and massages, an MRI showed a tear in her supraspinatus tendon. Her doctor confirmed that she would require surgery.
The day after being advised she would require surgery Anne reported the injury at work and lodged a WorkCover claim form. Several months had passed since the injury. The claim was rejected on the basis that the injury had not been reported within 30 days and the claim had not been lodged within a reasonable timeframe.
ANMF then referred Anne to us at Gordon Legal for advice. We assisted Anne and the ANMF through the conciliation disputes process and court, but there was a delay and frustration for Anne while this occured. Her pain increased, her work capacity was limited and her domestic and recreational activities were also affected.
You have 30 days to report your injury or work-related illness to your employer.
Anne’s name has been changed but the circumstances of her story are all too familiar for us at Gordon Legal. What I have learnt in the first 12 months of looking after ANMF members and having six aunts who were nurses is that nurses, midwives and carers are focused on their patients and residents, often at the expense of themselves.
Our job is not only to support you through what is an arduous system which can often feel like war by attrition, but also to assist with practical advice to help you if you are injured.
Here are some things you need to know about your WorkCover rights and entitlements:
- You have 30 days to report your injury or work-related illness to your employer.
- We recommend that you lodge a WorkCover claim form once you have had two to three doctor’s visits or two to three physiotherapy visits. Do not wait until you have run out of sick pay or are facing surgery.
- Be treated by your own doctor.
- Do not allow the employer, insurer or return to work officer into a medical treatment appointment. The system allows them to obtain information through multiple appropriate means. Your medical treatment appointment is sacrosanct.
- Once your claim is accepted, if the insurer makes a decision contrary to your interests or fails to make a decision, you should dispute that decision through conciliation. Speak with the ANMF immediately, as you have a 60 day limit.
- If you have a permanent injury, even if you can go back to work full time, ask the ANMF to refer you for advice about whether you are entitled to lump sum claims.
It is important to know your rights and entitlements in the WorkCover system. With the support of the ANMF and Gordon Legal you can understand what your rights are and make the best decisions for you.
If you’re injured at work, or become ill as a result of work, contact the ANMF InfoLine as soon as possible via the member assist form at anmfvic.asn.au/memberassistance or call 9275 933 or 1800 133 353 (regional toll free).
ANMF members* are entitled to a free standard will and discounted rates for personal legal services through Gordon Legal.