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Bullying In Workers Compensation Claims

The Macquarie University Centre for Workforce Futures conducted an enquiry in relation to allegations of bullying in WorkCover NSW system during 2014 and 2015.

The survey found that there was a wide spread culture of bullying and that more than a quarter of workers who had claimed workers’ compensation in NSW experienced some bullying by WorkCover, the insurer, scheme agents, employers or rehabilitation providers.

The survey found that almost a quarter of all those who had made a claim for workers’ compensation had been bullied, threatened, or intimidated by the insurer during the life of their claim. In our practice we regularly see this bullying behaviour and unfortunately this bullying trend seems to be worsening. There is increasing hostility towards claimants in the workers’ compensation system as well as failure to support injured workers in their endeavours to return to work.

An Excerpt from the Report

The report states:

“It is unfortunate, yet well understood, that workers who claim compensation for work place injuries are likely to be subjected to stigma, bullying and discrimination. The study confirmed that workers are, indeed, discriminated against and [have suffered the stigmatisation] of being a worker’s compensation claimant. Several workers explained that they had been “good workers” who did the right thing” and worked hard. Yet they described how as soon as they made a claim for worker’s compensation the employer’s attitude towards them changed. Two workers even claimed that they had been blacklisted by their employer so their colleagues and friends were prohibited from making contact with them.”

Common Bullying Tactics

Our clients often report that their insurer or case managers have made derogatory comments about why they have not returned to work or why they have not been able to increase their hours of employment. These comments imply that the insurer thinks the injured worker is somehow “bludging” or not trying their best to return to work.

This behaviour makes the injured workers feel like they are a criminal, rather than someone who has been the subject of an unfortunate accident. Most people do not wish to sustain an injury at work and most people wish to get back to meaningful work as soon as possible. There is no doubt that a persons’ psychological health dramatically improves when performing meaningful work.

However, some injuries prevent people from returning to their pre-injury duties. Other times the workers’ injuries may take a significant period of time to heal which means that the worker takes a very long time to return to work on restricted light duties, let alone on a full time basis. The insurers’ attitude seems to be one where they wish to return people to any type of work as soon as possible following an injury, no matter what the consequences, even when such a return to work has been demonstrated by the workers’ doctors to be detrimental to their health.

A favourite tactic of the insurer is to arrange a “case conference” with the injured worker and their nominated treating doctor. The stated purpose of the case conference is to discuss injury and treatment with the nominated treating doctor and the injured worker so a plan can be arranged in relation to a graduated return to work. However, what really occurs at these meetings is the claims officer placing great pressure on the nominated treating doctor to change the WorkCover Certificate of Capacity to either certify a worker fit for suitable duties or to increase the hours and the duties that the worker is fit to undertake. This pressure can be in forms of suggestions. For example, the claims officer may suggest that if the doctor does not update the certificate the workers’ benefits may be affected.

For some reason, nominated treating doctors often listen to the claims officer rather than relying on their own clinical judgement to determine the nature and type of duties that are suitable.

Often injured workers are returned to work well before they have recovered from the injuries which as a direct consequence usually results in further or additional injury.

What can I do if I am Bullied or Pressured by my Claims Officer?

There are a number of things you can do to try and alleviate this bullying, including:

  1. Limiting the amount of direct contact you have with the claims officer over the phone. The claims officer will be more reluctant to put in writing suggestions that an injured worker is not making their best effort to return to work.
  2. If a case conference has been arranged with your nominated treating doctor, you should meet with the nominated treating doctor before the claims officer is allowed into the meeting. You have the right to refuse the claims officer to attend with you when you are talking to your nominated treating doctor about your injury, condition, and treatment. At that time you should raise the issue of your work capacity with your nominated treating doctor and advise them that it is likely that the claims officer will try and pressure the doctor to increase the suitable duties and hours on the WorkCover Certificate of Capacity. If you have agreed with your nominating treating doctor before the claims officer enters the meeting what are the appropriate suitable duties and the hours you can perform then the doctor is unlikely to change his or her mind.
  3. If the bullying continues you should make a complaint by email to the claims officer’s supervisor within the workers’ compensation insurer. This may not have a great effect on stopping the bullying as there appears to be a culture within insurers to condone such bullying however it does provide a paper trail of complaints.
  4. If a complaint to the supervisor does not work, then a complaint should be made to the WorkCover Independent Review Officer (WIRO) on 13 94 76 or a complaint can be submitted online at www.wiro.nsw.gov.au. WIRO’s role is to assist injured workers with any disputes, complaints or issues that they have with workers’ compensation insurers.
  5. If WIRO is unable to assist further with your complaint then you should contact an experienced accredited specialist in personal injury law who may be able to assist you with lodging an Anti-Discrimination Act claim or such similar proceedings.
Garling & Co Lawyers

Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law approved by New South Wales Law Society. He is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia. Matthew is also a member of...
Ray H.
07:33 13 Jun 24
Matthew Garling and Team are kind, patient, polite, professional, empathetic and efficient. I was treated terribly by the at fault insurer. Garling and Co. had my back. Matthew gently and patiently... kept me up to speed on all the steps to go through. From my personal experience I recommend these guys. They are safe hands. Thank you team.read more
Jo L.
05:58 07 May 24
So very impressed with the professional team who looked after me throughout the last 4 and 1/2 years. A special mention to Kerry and Nathan who navigated each request to fight for my right to gain... access to further treatments and physio and to ensure medical treatment would be covered moving forward. I was so grateful I could hand it all over to you and not have to go through this very challenging time without your support.I thank you for the compassion you have provided to me, from the first contact with Matthew and Natasha, to finalisation with Kerry and Nathan.I highly recommend the team at Garling and Co for any third party compensation claims. You are in good hands with them all.read more
Linda O.
21:53 06 May 24
Emma, Rebecca and the team at Garling and Co have worked diligently throughout my workers compensation claim. The level of professionalism, support and communication has been faultless. Of particular... note has been the sensitivity displayed to me throughout the lengthy process. Worker’s compensation claims are complex and not easy to navigate, particularly when you are unwell. I do not hesitate to recommend Garling and Co to help you find a way through this otherwise unfathomable system.read more
Keith H.
20:51 23 Apr 24
After my case stalled with another firm, I decided to give Matthew Garling a call. He took my case and not only won, but achieved an outcome that far exceeded my expectations. This firm is the best... in the business in my opinion and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone.read more
Anthony T.
00:50 16 Apr 24
Thank you Matthew and his team who guided me through the legal process, a truly positive experience with total professionalism.
Mikaele N.
03:01 15 Apr 24
Garling &Co Lawyers were awesome, I called every compensation law firm and was told that I couldn't claim for compensation.The whole experience and process was simple and stress free.Mr Matthew... Garling and Allison deserve an accolades for the very best in client service. I would highly recommend their service to anyone.read more
Tamara L.
02:10 15 Apr 24
I want to thank Garling & Co so much for all the help they have given me and helped with my claim. We got the win last week and it was the best news I have gotten considering how much my life has... been turned upside down the past 2 years. Emma and Rebecca have been incredible to work with and explained everything from the start even when I had hesitation to go ahead regarding how much everything would cost or how fair it could go or even if I had a chance, but they explained everything thoroughly, so I understood it all. Thank you for making this process seamlessly easy and helping me get the win it will make things a little easy for me that's for sure financial thank you for all your help I cannot recommend you and your services enough. Thank you again.read more
Sigrid W.
05:01 11 Apr 24
Utter professionalism from first phone call to final settlement. It was a pleasure to be represented by a firm that actually cares for their clients. From office staff, to paralegal and solicitor... Rebecca, Emma and Matthew thank you for your support and expertise throughout my claim. No wonder your firm has won many awards. I'm extremely happy with my outcome and can confidently recommend your firm.read more
BJ S.
01:09 09 Apr 24
Highly recommend Matthew & Allison at Garling and Co ! Quick response ! helpful every step of the way ! If you want the best compensation lawyer, Matthew @ Garling and co is the bestDoesn’t waste... time. Very informative ! excellent guidance! They get the job done ✅Website is perfect guide5 Star ⭐️ is not enoughI’m so grateful to Matthew, Allison and team for my outcome so far !Thank you 😊 Garling and co are awesome 👏 🤩read more
Jaimie K.
06:11 02 Apr 24
Have had a rollercoaster ride with Garling and Co over the several years we have been battling the system that injured workers are faced with. The wheels of progress are slow within this system.... However Garling and co have always stood by me. Calls are returned and matters are always followed up in a timely manner.read more
READ ALL TESTIMONIALS

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Ray H.
07:33 13 Jun 24
Matthew Garling and Team are kind, patient, polite, professional, empathetic and efficient. I was treated terribly by the at fault insurer. Garling and Co. had my back. Matthew gently and patiently... kept me up to speed on all the steps to go through. From my personal experience I recommend these guys. They are safe hands. Thank you team.read more
Jo L.
05:58 07 May 24
So very impressed with the professional team who looked after me throughout the last 4 and 1/2 years. A special mention to Kerry and Nathan who navigated each request to fight for my right to gain... access to further treatments and physio and to ensure medical treatment would be covered moving forward. I was so grateful I could hand it all over to you and not have to go through this very challenging time without your support.I thank you for the compassion you have provided to me, from the first contact with Matthew and Natasha, to finalisation with Kerry and Nathan.I highly recommend the team at Garling and Co for any third party compensation claims. You are in good hands with them all.read more
Linda O.
21:53 06 May 24
Emma, Rebecca and the team at Garling and Co have worked diligently throughout my workers compensation claim. The level of professionalism, support and communication has been faultless. Of particular... note has been the sensitivity displayed to me throughout the lengthy process. Worker’s compensation claims are complex and not easy to navigate, particularly when you are unwell. I do not hesitate to recommend Garling and Co to help you find a way through this otherwise unfathomable system.read more
Keith H.
20:51 23 Apr 24
After my case stalled with another firm, I decided to give Matthew Garling a call. He took my case and not only won, but achieved an outcome that far exceeded my expectations. This firm is the best... in the business in my opinion and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone.read more
Anthony T.
00:50 16 Apr 24
Thank you Matthew and his team who guided me through the legal process, a truly positive experience with total professionalism.
Mikaele N.
03:01 15 Apr 24
Garling &Co Lawyers were awesome, I called every compensation law firm and was told that I couldn't claim for compensation.The whole experience and process was simple and stress free.Mr Matthew... Garling and Allison deserve an accolades for the very best in client service. I would highly recommend their service to anyone.read more
Tamara L.
02:10 15 Apr 24
I want to thank Garling & Co so much for all the help they have given me and helped with my claim. We got the win last week and it was the best news I have gotten considering how much my life has... been turned upside down the past 2 years. Emma and Rebecca have been incredible to work with and explained everything from the start even when I had hesitation to go ahead regarding how much everything would cost or how fair it could go or even if I had a chance, but they explained everything thoroughly, so I understood it all. Thank you for making this process seamlessly easy and helping me get the win it will make things a little easy for me that's for sure financial thank you for all your help I cannot recommend you and your services enough. Thank you again.read more
Sigrid W.
05:01 11 Apr 24
Utter professionalism from first phone call to final settlement. It was a pleasure to be represented by a firm that actually cares for their clients. From office staff, to paralegal and solicitor... Rebecca, Emma and Matthew thank you for your support and expertise throughout my claim. No wonder your firm has won many awards. I'm extremely happy with my outcome and can confidently recommend your firm.read more
BJ S.
01:09 09 Apr 24
Highly recommend Matthew & Allison at Garling and Co ! Quick response ! helpful every step of the way ! If you want the best compensation lawyer, Matthew @ Garling and co is the bestDoesn’t waste... time. Very informative ! excellent guidance! They get the job done ✅Website is perfect guide5 Star ⭐️ is not enoughI’m so grateful to Matthew, Allison and team for my outcome so far !Thank you 😊 Garling and co are awesome 👏 🤩read more
Jaimie K.
06:11 02 Apr 24
Have had a rollercoaster ride with Garling and Co over the several years we have been battling the system that injured workers are faced with. The wheels of progress are slow within this system.... However Garling and co have always stood by me. Calls are returned and matters are always followed up in a timely manner.read more
University of Technology, Sydney
Member of Law Society of New South Wales
Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation
University of Sydney
Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales
The law society of nsw professional standards scheme logo.
University of Technology, Sydney
Member of Law Society of New South Wales
Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation
University of Sydney
Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales
The law society of nsw professional standards scheme logo.
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