Workers compensation disputes

Disputes are assigned to the most appropriate dispute resolution pathway.

Other disputes

Disputes are assigned to the most appropriate dispute resolution pathway.

The Commission’s online portal has a number of fields for lodging these types of applications. It’s important to use the field most appropriate to an application, claim or dispute. If there is no approved field, you may use a miscellaneous application or prepare an application to the satisfaction of the Principal Registrar.

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Miscellaneous applications
Miscellaneous applications Commutation applications Work injury damages Costs assessments Death of a worker

Miscellaneous applications

If there is no specific application, you may use the miscellaneous application.

When to use the miscellaneous application

The miscellaneous application (Form 20) may be used for lodging a dispute about the following:

  • an award for weekly compensation payments and medical expenses to a worker residing outside Australia
  • an interim award of compensation
  • an order for interest before or following an order for payment
  • a direction for an employer or insurer in possession of a medical report to provide a copy of that report to the worker, the worker’s legal representative, or any other person deemed fit by the Commission
  • a determination to reimburse the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund  (subject to section 145(4A) of the Workers Compensation Act 1987)
  • a review of weekly payments
  • a refund of weekly payments paid after the worker returns to work or changes employment
  • an application for entitlement to costs by way of a costs order.

The person or party lodging the application is called the applicant. The person or party responding to the application is called the respondent.

The Commission’s guide to completing the miscellaneous application (Form 20) provides details on completing and preparing the miscellaneous application.

How to lodge a miscellaneous application

Lodging the miscellaneous Application (Form 20) is the first step for an applicant to apply to have a dispute resolved by the Commission. Most applicants are legally represented, with the dispute resolution application being lodged by the legal representative on their behalf. The application can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

All relevant information must be attached to the application. The application should not be lodged until all relevant material is available because it may not be possible to include further information later in the dispute resolution process.

The applicant must serve a sealed copy of the application on the respondent within seven days of the miscellaneous application being registered by the Commission. All information attached to the application must also be provided to the other party. This early exchange of relevant information assists with discussions to help resolve the dispute.

The Commission’s guide to completing a miscellaneous application (Form 20) provides details on completing and preparing the application.

How to respond to an application

The next step in the lodgment process is for the respondent to respond to the miscellaneous application by lodging a reply to application to resolve a dispute (Form 2A). If the reply to application to resolve a dispute (Form 2A) is not appropriate, the respondent can prepare a reply to the satisfaction of the Principal Registrar. Most respondents are legally represented, with the reply being lodged by the legal representative on their behalf.

The miscellaneous application will proceed even if the respondent chooses not to respond or does not respond in the required time, which is 21 days from date of registration of the application.

The reply can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

Once the application and the reply (if there is one) have been lodged with the Commission, the parties will be allocated a teleconference with a Member and will follow the legal disputes pathway.

How long does resolving a dispute take

The time taken to resolve a dispute depends on:

  • the issues in dispute
  • the standard of preparation by the parties
  • the willingness of parties to genuinely attempt resolution
  • whether a decision is appealed.

The Commission aims to resolve disputes as quickly as possible and will encourage the parties to resolve their dispute at the earliest opportunity.

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Commutation applications

A liability in respect of weekly payments of compensation and medical expenses compensation may be commuted to a lump sum payment by the employer’s insurer to the worker.

Eligibility for commutation

A commutation agreement cannot be entered into by a worker unless they have first received independent legal advice. Commutation agreements must be certified by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) before they can be registered by the Commission. More information about commutation agreements is available from SIRA’s website.

How to lodge an application to register a commutation agreement

The Application to Register a Commutation Agreement (Form 5A) must be prepared and lodged jointly by the worker and the employer’s insurer.

The application can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

The worker and the insurer will be notified when the agreement has been registered.

How to lodge an application for a determination to commute liability

The application can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

Where the worker is legally incapacitated by reason of age or mental capacity, the worker’s representatives and the employee's insurer must jointly prepare and lodge the Application for Determination to Commute Liability (Form 5C).

Once the Application for Determination to Commute Liability form has been lodged with the Commission, the parties will be allocated a teleconference with a Member and will follow the legal disputes pathway.

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Work injury damages

A number of disputes may arise in relation to a work injury damages claim.

Threshold disputes for damages

If there is a dispute as to whether the degree of permanent impairment is sufficient for an award of damages (a ‘threshold dispute’), the claimant cannot serve a pre-filing statement unless the degree of permanent impairment has been assessed by a Medical Assessor.

An Application for Assessment by an Approved Medical Specialist (Form 7) should be completed.

Once the application and the reply (if there is one) have been lodged with the Commission:

  • if liability is in dispute, the parties will be allocated a teleconference with a Member and will follow the legal disputes pathway
  • if the degree of permanent impairment only is in dispute, the worker will be referred for a medical assessment with a medial assessor and will follow the medical disputes pathway.

Defective pre-filing statements

Pre-filing document requirements

Before mediation or court proceedings, the worker must serve a pre-filing statement on the insurer setting out the details of their claim and the evidence that will be relied on to establish or support their claim.

The insurer must then serve a pre-filing defence on the claimant, in response to their pre-filing statement, setting out the details of their defence and the evidence relied on.

In work injury damages disputes, the worker who serves the pre-filing statement on the insurer is called the claimant. The person or party who serves the pre-filing defence on the claimant is called the defendant.

Defective pre-filing statements

The defendant can, within seven days of the being served with the claimant’s pre-filing statement, notify the claimant of alleged defects in the pre-filing statement. The claimant must, within seven days of being notified about the alleged defects, notify the defendant whether they agree or disagree that the pre-filing statement is defective.

Either party can refer a dispute about whether the claimant’s pre-filing statement is defective by lodging an Application to Cure a Defective Pre-filing Statement (Form 11B) with the Commission.

The application can be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal, by post or in person. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

The application will be determined by a delegate of the President, who may require further information from the parties and may hold a teleconference. The claimant and defendant will be notified of the decision in writing.

Access to information and premises

Applying for access

To assist in reviewing and preparing the claimant’s work injury damages claim, the claimant can apply to the Commission for a direction to the defendant to provide reports and other documents in the defendant’s possession and/or to allow the claimant access to the defendant’s premises. This can be done by lodging the Direction for Access to Information and Premises (Form 11) for endorsement and issuing by the Commission.

The application can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

If the Commission agrees to direct production of reports or documents and/or access to premises, the Direction for Access to Information and Premises (Form 11) will be endorsed and returned to the claimant. The claimant must then serve the endorsed direction on the defendant at least 28 days before the dates specified by the Commission in the direction.

The defendant must then provide the claimant with the reports or other documents, and/or access to the premises, as outlined in the direction.

Objecting to the direction

The defendant may object to the direction by notifying the Commission in writing before the dates specified on the direction expire. The defendant is then excused from complying with the direction until the objection is determined.

The objection will be determined by a delegate of the President, who may require further information from the parties and may hold a teleconference. The claimant and defendant will be notified of the decision in writing.

Striking out a pre-filing statement

Application to strike out a pre-filing statement

The defendant may apply to the Commission to strike out the claimant’s pre-filing statement where it has been at least six months since the pre-filing defence was served on the claimant.

The President can’t order the pre-filing statement to be struck out if the degree of permanent impairment is not yet fully ascertainable and the claimant has been referred to a Medical Assessor for assessment.

Lodging the Application to Strike Out a Pre-filing Statement (Form 11E) and supporting documentation is the first step for the defendant when applying to have the claimant’s pre-filing statement struck out by the Commission. The application can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

The defendant must then serve a sealed copy of the application and any supporting documentation on the claimant within 14 days of the date of registration.

Opposing the strike out application

The next step is for the claimant to lodge an Notice of Opposition to Strike Out a Pre-Filing Statement (Form 11F) within 28 days.

The response can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

The claimant must also serve a copy of the opposition notice and any supporting documentation on the defendant within 28 days of the application being served on the claimant.

The application will be determined by the President, who may require further information from the parties and may hold a conference or hearing. The claimant and defendant will be notified of the decision in writing.

How long does resolving a dispute take

The time taken to resolve a dispute depends on:

  • the issues in dispute
  • the standard of preparation by the parties
  • the willingness of parties to genuinely attempt resolution
  • whether a decision is appealed.

The Commission aims to resolve disputes as quickly as possible and will encourage the parties to resolve their dispute at the earliest opportunity.

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Costs assessments

An application can be made to the Commission to assess the costs payable in relation to a workers compensation or work injury damages dispute.

Lodgment

Lodging the application for assessment of costs is the first step for the applicant in requesting an assessment of costs by the President.

Depending on the circumstances of the matter, the correct application form will be:

The application can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

The person lodging the application is called the applicant. The person responding to the application is called the respondent.

The applicant must serve a sealed copy of the application for assessment of costs on the respondent within seven days of the application being registered by the Commission. All information attached to the application must also be provided to the other party.

Timeframes for application lodgment

WhoCircumstancesApplication deadline
Legal representative or agentIf they have been given a bill of costsLodgment must be within 30 days of being given the bill of costs
Legal representative or agentIf they have given a bill of costsLodgment must be after 30 days of giving the bill of costs
Any other personIf they have paid or are liable to pay costs in relation to an order by the Commission or an agreementLodgment must be 60 days after the making of the order or agreement

How to lodge a response

Within 14 days of being served with the application, the respondent may object to part or all of the costs claimed by lodging with the Commission and serving on the applicant written submissions outlining their objections and attaching supporting documents.

How to respond to objections

Within seven days of service of the objections, the applicant may respond to any objections by lodging with the Commission and serving on the respondent written submissions and supporting documents.

When will the costs assessment take place

Once the deadline for a response has passed, costs will be assessed by a delegate of the President. The applicant and respondent will be notified of the outcome by the issuing of a written assessment of costs.

How long does resolving a dispute take

The time taken to resolve a dispute depends on:

  • the issues in dispute
  • the standard of preparation by the parties
  • the willingness of parties to genuinely attempt resolution
  • whether a decision is appealed.

The Commission aims to resolve disputes as quickly as possible and will encourage the parties to resolve their dispute at the earliest opportunity.

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Death of a worker

Information on how to lodge disputes relating to compensation for death of a worker

When to use the application in respect of death of a worker form

The Commission’s role in resolving disputes in relation to the death of a worker include determining whether death results from an injury, who was dependent for support on the worker at the time of death, apportioning compensation between dependants, and funeral expenses.

The Registrar’s Practice Guide for Death Claims provides further information on the types of disputes resulting from the death of a worker and the relevant practices and procedures of the Commission.

Lodging an application in respect of death of a worker

The application in respect of death of a worker (Form 2D) is the approved application to lodge when an issue requires determination in respect of the death of a worker.

The person or party lodging the application is called the applicant. The person or party responding to the application is called the respondent.

Most applicants are legally represented, with the application being lodged by the legal representative on their behalf. The applicant may be a dependant of the deceased or the insurer. There may be multiple respondents named; if so, the application should include all potential dependants.

If compensation is claimed for a period prior to the date of death of a worker, such as for weekly compensation or medical treatment, either an application for expedited assessment (Form 1) or an application to resolve a dispute (Form 2) should be completed.

The application can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgement portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

All relevant information must be attached to the application. The application should not be lodged until all relevant material is available because it may not be possible to include further information later in the dispute resolution process.

The applicant must serve a sealed copy of the application on all respondents within seven days of the application being registered by the Commission. All information attached to the application must also be provided to the other party. This early exchange of relevant information assists with discussions to help resolve the dispute.

The Registrar’s Practice Guide for Death Claims provides details on completing and preparing the application.

How to respond to an application

The next step in the lodgment process is for the respondent to respond to the application by lodging a reply to application to resolve a dispute (Form 2A). Most respondents are legally represented and the reply is lodged by the legal representative on their behalf.

The application will proceed even if the respondent chooses not to respond or does not respond in the required time, which is 21 days from date of registration of the dispute resolution application.

All information relevant to the dispute which is not attached to the application must be attached to the reply and provided to the other party. It may not be possible to include further information later in the dispute resolution process.

The reply can only be lodged through the Commission’s online lodgment portal. More information about lodgment methods is available on our lodge a dispute page.

Once the application and the reply (if any) have been lodged with the Commission, the parties will be allocated a teleconference with a senior lawyer or Member, depending on the issues raised. The application will follow the legal disputes pathway.

How long does resolving a dispute take

The time taken to resolve a dispute depends on:

  • the issues in dispute
  • the standard of preparation by the parties
  • the willingness of parties to genuinely attempt resolution
  • whether a decision is appealed.

The Commission aims to resolve disputes as quickly as possible and will encourage the parties to resolve their dispute at the earliest opportunity.

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