We chatted with Michael Watters at D’Angelo Legal about the options available for a Workers’ Compensation claim that is in dispute.
If a Workers’ Compensation claim is disputed, then Work Cover WA steps in to become the umpire providing Conciliation and Arbitration Services. Work Cover WA is a Western Australian Government Agency that oversees all workers compensation matters.
We’ve found that most workers’ compensation claims are settled to the satisfaction of all parties involved. But, disputes can occur at any stage of a claim and can arise over a number of matters, including the liability (who is at fault), the amount to be paid, medical and related expenses, rehabilitation, and return to work programs.
Resolving a dispute can be a long and involved process. There are forms and applications to be completed, documents to be gathered and registered, as well as meetings, and sometimes hearings, to be held. There are strict timeframes involved and parties are encouraged to resolve the dispute at any stage.
We believe it is in the interest of all parties to make sure they have exhausted all other opportunities to resolve matters, before considering Conciliation and Arbitration.
First option: Conciliation
Work Cover appoints a trained conciliator who mediates to help resolve the dispute. The time frame for resolution is 56 days. If an application for Arbitration is not received within 28 days, then the parties go through the Conciliation process again.
If it not resolved, then proceed to the second option.
Second option: Arbitration
A legally trained arbitrator is appointed by Work Cover WA for a Directions Hearing, which is where the parties put forward a brief overview of their case, the evidence they have, and a date is set for the Tribunal Hearing. The outcome is that the matter is listed for a further Directions Hearing or a date is set for a Tribunal Hearing.
Once an Arbitration hearing has been heard, orders are set and must be carried out. If there is an appeal, it is made to the District Court.
There is a long wait list for Arbitration, and those wishing to go down this path can expect to wait longer than six months for a hearing, and then another six months for a decision to be handed down. If the claim is stress-related, then it is important to note that a trial could add more stress.
At D’Angelo Legal, we explore every avenue for our clients for a satisfactory settlement of their Workers’ Compensation claim before considering Conciliation and Arbitration.