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Beware the case conference

Once a claim for workers' compensation is accepted, the insurer will appoint a rehabilitation provider to assist in your return to work.

The rehabilitation provider liaises with you, your treating doctor, the insurance company, and your employer to participate in injury management and to return you safely to work. Both you and your employer have responsibilities and rights in relation to the injury management and your return to work.

Whilst rehabilitation providers can be of assistance in finding you suitable work with your employer and assist in developing a return to work program, problems can arise when an employer is unable to provide suitable duties.

Whilst an employer has an obligation to provide suitable duties to the injured worker, it is not required by law. If no such suitable duties are available, then an injured worker cannot return to work.

The injured worker however continues to have a responsibility to look for work in accordance with the WorkCover Medical Certificate. This puts the injured worker in a difficult situation where they remained employed but have an obligation to look for work in accordance with their certificate, even where an employer failed to provide suitable work.

The Case Conference

The rehabilitation providers however have various “tactics” which they use to either return people to work or use the workers’ compensation legislation as a way of stopping a workers’ weekly payments.

This situation occurs when the rehabilitation provider arranges a case conference with you and your treating doctor. The purpose of the case conference is so the rehabilitation provider can understand your injuries and assist with your return to work. However, what usually happens is that the rehabilitation provider intimidates or pressures the doctor to change the restrictions and hours of work contained on the WorkCover Certificate of Capacity.

For example, the worker has a certificate that certifies them unfit for work, the rehabilitation provider will arrange a case conference with you and your treating doctor. At that case conference the rehabilitation provider will try any means possible to have the doctor change the WorkCover Certificate of Capacity from unfit to work to fit for suitable duties.

The rehabilitation provider will state that the sooner the injured worker returns to work, the better off they will be and there is some support for this proposition however the difficulty arises when a worker has been receiving weekly benefits for at least 130 weeks.

If you have been receiving weekly benefits for between 130 and 250 weeks (that is 2.5 to 5 years) and your WorkCover Certificate is changed from being totally unfit to fit for suitable duties (usually because of pressure from the rehabilitation provider at a case conference) then this can cause great difficulties in receiving ongoing payments of weekly compensation.

Weekly payments can be stopped following an increase in hours on your certificate

Pursuant to Section 38 of the Workers Compensation Act, an injured worker is only entitled to weekly benefits after 130 weeks if one of the following is satisfied:

  1. The worker is totally unfit for work; or
  2. If the worker is fit for suitable duties and working at least 15 hours per week.

Most workers who have been receiving compensation for at least 130 weeks have usually been terminated or the employer has refused to provide them with suitable work. As soon as the Certificate therefore is upgraded to suitable duties, if the worker cannot obtain such suitable duties on the open labour market with some other employer, then pursuant to Section 38 of the Act, weekly payments of compensation stop. The insurer is only required to provide 6 weeks notice that weekly benefits are to stop.

Once weekly benefits stop the worker is only entitled to receive medical expenses for 2 more years.

The above only applies to workers who have a 20% whole person impairment or less. If your whole person impairment is 21% or greater, you continue to receive weekly benefits until retirement age.

Therefore, the case conference is used as a tool by rehabilitation providers and insurers to put pressure on the nominated treating doctor to increase the hours of work particularly from a worker who is unfit to work to certify that the worker is fit for some suitable employment.

The consequences of such a change in capacity for work is significant when a worker has received benefits for at least 130 weeks. If an injured worker at that stage is not working at least 15 hours per week and receives a Certificate for suitable work, then weekly compensation will stop.

Refuse to attend a Case Conference

An injured worker has a right to refuse to attend a case conference.

We recommend that you refuse to attend a case conference if you believe the rehabilitation provider will pressure the Doctor to change the certificate. Or you can make sure you discuss these matters with your general practitioner prior to the case conference without the rehabilitation provider present.

The general practitioner should be made aware that the purpose of the case conference is that the rehabilitation provider is likely to pressure the doctor to increase the Certificate of Capacity so weekly compensation benefits can be stopped, then discuss this with the Doctor before allowing the rehabilitation provider into the room.

If you would like further information on Workers Compensation, please see our articles on our blog;

About Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling, Founder of Garling & Co is a NSW Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law. He specialises in compensation law and has acted on behalf of thousands of injured people in work accidents, motor vehicle accidents and negligence cases over the last 20 years.

Zee
14:20 15 Jan 22
I would like to thank the entire team at Garling and Co for being in my corner throughout the worst years I've experienced in my life.I chose Garling and Co in the end after being seriously injured... at work and needing representation, something I should have done years prior.I met with over 12 other legal firms in Sydney. Large,medium, small and all in between. Some were friends, some family, some were sharks, many were pressuring, many promised the world, Matthew was not like that.Matthew was the benchmark as he was one of the first I spoke with and ultimately he stood out in the end as I felt he was the most genuine.From the outset to the conclusion, I found Matthew to be very polite, easy to communicate with and extremely down to earth.He explained everything simply, he had answers for any questions along the way. He told me it how it was, not just what I wanted to hear.Matthew is a genuine nice guy that runs a very efficient and professional law firm. I made the correct choice engaging him in my claims and would not hesitate in recommending him.Renee was also terrific in handling my TPD claim which was literally finalised faster then international postage.Allison, Rebecca and Kelli were all great, always.Thanks again Garling and Co.read more
mark S.
06:30 23 Dec 21
I found from my very first meeting With Matthew that he was upfront honest and to the point . He thoroughly investigated my claim and we agreed too proceed.The staff at Garling and Co are wonderful... and helpful and I was kept informed and upto date from day one till the end .They made me feel confident and secure and I know I had the best team possible for my best outcome .I can’t thank Matthew and the team for their wonderful serviceread more
Daniel F.
08:48 10 Nov 21
My wife suffered psychological injury.Never having similar experience she had to get legal advice.Workers compensation law is complex and she needed someone to help her navigate her way through.... There are many compensation lawyers but not all with enough experience and strong reputation . We have finally decided to go with Matthew and his team based on the independent website reviews .Looking back now we have made the right choice .There is lot of hurdles and having trustworthy lawyer with great communication skills on your side can make huge difference .My wife can now try to move on with the compensation she deserved.Thanks to Matthew ,Allison ,Emma,Rebecca and rest of the team. Thank you again.Daniel and Veerayaread more
K B.
07:35 28 Oct 21
When you work for an employer for a number of decades and suffer a debilitating injury, you expect compassion, support and belief that you are genuine. When you don’t get that and then also have to... deal with Workers Compensation Insurers it slowly breaks you.That's when you need amazing support like Matthew Garling and his team. From my first meeting with Matthew I was confident I was referred to the right guy. I couldn’t be more pleased with my outcome. Matthew is the Guru of workers compensation, he is professional, easy to work with, nothings a bother and most importantly he gets great results. Do not think twice about using Garling and Co Lawyers.Thank you Matthew, Renee, Allison and Kelli for your invaluable support.read more
Moussa I.
14:23 20 Sep 21
Great attitude! they return my call every time I callI'm very confident I will reach something good with garling &co
Dulce L.
08:48 23 Aug 21
Garling & Co have been exceptional. Matthew was always professional attentive clear and concise, I felt up most confidence in his management dealing with my matter always had my best interest. i... highly recommend Garling & Co Lawyersread more
Melissa H
11:53 10 Aug 21
I am grateful to have had Matthew represent me on my motor vehicle compensation claim.After meeting with two lawyers previous to deciding on Garling and co, I was left unsure and confused as to... where I stood regarding my claim. Matthew and Allison were incredibly helpful, put my mind at ease, and took the worry and stress out of an already difficult situation.Through the settlement process they would always keep me informed and made time to answer all of my questions. I am really pleased with the outcome of the settlement.Thank you to the team at Garling and Coread more
Violeta C.
07:30 05 Aug 21
My experience with Garling & Co was great. Matthew was always professional, attentive and communicated in a clear manner. I felt confident in his management of my matter & always had my best interest... in mind.I have no reservation in recommending Matthew & the Garling & Co team.read more
Sonia C.
03:04 05 Aug 21
Ann F.
04:11 04 Aug 21
Professional and helpful
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Zee
14:20 15 Jan 22
I would like to thank the entire team at Garling and Co for being in my corner throughout the worst years I've experienced in my life.I chose Garling and Co in the end after being seriously injured... at work and needing representation, something I should have done years prior.I met with over 12 other legal firms in Sydney. Large,medium, small and all in between. Some were friends, some family, some were sharks, many were pressuring, many promised the world, Matthew was not like that.Matthew was the benchmark as he was one of the first I spoke with and ultimately he stood out in the end as I felt he was the most genuine.From the outset to the conclusion, I found Matthew to be very polite, easy to communicate with and extremely down to earth.He explained everything simply, he had answers for any questions along the way. He told me it how it was, not just what I wanted to hear.Matthew is a genuine nice guy that runs a very efficient and professional law firm. I made the correct choice engaging him in my claims and would not hesitate in recommending him.Renee was also terrific in handling my TPD claim which was literally finalised faster then international postage.Allison, Rebecca and Kelli were all great, always.Thanks again Garling and Co.read more
mark S.
06:30 23 Dec 21
I found from my very first meeting With Matthew that he was upfront honest and to the point . He thoroughly investigated my claim and we agreed too proceed.The staff at Garling and Co are wonderful... and helpful and I was kept informed and upto date from day one till the end .They made me feel confident and secure and I know I had the best team possible for my best outcome .I can’t thank Matthew and the team for their wonderful serviceread more
Daniel F.
08:48 10 Nov 21
My wife suffered psychological injury.Never having similar experience she had to get legal advice.Workers compensation law is complex and she needed someone to help her navigate her way through.... There are many compensation lawyers but not all with enough experience and strong reputation . We have finally decided to go with Matthew and his team based on the independent website reviews .Looking back now we have made the right choice .There is lot of hurdles and having trustworthy lawyer with great communication skills on your side can make huge difference .My wife can now try to move on with the compensation she deserved.Thanks to Matthew ,Allison ,Emma,Rebecca and rest of the team. Thank you again.Daniel and Veerayaread more
K B.
07:35 28 Oct 21
When you work for an employer for a number of decades and suffer a debilitating injury, you expect compassion, support and belief that you are genuine. When you don’t get that and then also have to... deal with Workers Compensation Insurers it slowly breaks you.That's when you need amazing support like Matthew Garling and his team. From my first meeting with Matthew I was confident I was referred to the right guy. I couldn’t be more pleased with my outcome. Matthew is the Guru of workers compensation, he is professional, easy to work with, nothings a bother and most importantly he gets great results. Do not think twice about using Garling and Co Lawyers.Thank you Matthew, Renee, Allison and Kelli for your invaluable support.read more
Moussa I.
14:23 20 Sep 21
Great attitude! they return my call every time I callI'm very confident I will reach something good with garling &co
Dulce L.
08:48 23 Aug 21
Garling & Co have been exceptional. Matthew was always professional attentive clear and concise, I felt up most confidence in his management dealing with my matter always had my best interest. i... highly recommend Garling & Co Lawyersread more
Melissa H
11:53 10 Aug 21
I am grateful to have had Matthew represent me on my motor vehicle compensation claim.After meeting with two lawyers previous to deciding on Garling and co, I was left unsure and confused as to... where I stood regarding my claim. Matthew and Allison were incredibly helpful, put my mind at ease, and took the worry and stress out of an already difficult situation.Through the settlement process they would always keep me informed and made time to answer all of my questions. I am really pleased with the outcome of the settlement.Thank you to the team at Garling and Coread more
Violeta C.
07:30 05 Aug 21
My experience with Garling & Co was great. Matthew was always professional, attentive and communicated in a clear manner. I felt confident in his management of my matter & always had my best interest... in mind.I have no reservation in recommending Matthew & the Garling & Co team.read more
Sonia C.
03:04 05 Aug 21
Ann F.
04:11 04 Aug 21
Professional and helpful
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