If you get sick or injured because of a work-related incident, you’re entitled to workers compensation. In NSW, workers compensation can pay you an income while you’re unable to do your job, plus it can cover medical expenses, treatment and rehabilitation costs associated with your injury. 

How much you’re entitled to depends on the circumstances surrounding your injury or illness. While we can’t tell you exactly how much you’ll get, we can talk you through how workers compensation works, how long you’re entitled to receive it and when it’s worth speaking to a legal professional. 

What is a workers compensation payout?

A workers compensation payout covers lost wages, medical expenses and other treatments like rehabilitation to help you get better after a work-related injury or illness. Payouts can come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s the four main types of compensation payments you may be eligible for: 

Weekly payments. If your injury or illness has impacted your ability to work, then you could be eligible for weekly payments to replace your income. The amount you get will be based on your earnings before you were injured, including any overtime and shift allowances you received. Currently, the maximum weekly amount you can receive is $2,242.40 for the period between 1 October and 31 March 2021.

  • Medical expenses. If you’ve had to receive medical treatment because of your work-related injury or illness — including rehabilitation, pharmaceutical expenses and travel costs to and from appointments — then you can claim the costs back through workers compensation for up to two or five years depending on the seriousness of your injury. 
  • Permanent impairment payouts. These generally come in the form of a lump sum payment. You’re entitled to lump sum workers compensation payouts if your impairment is 11% or greater (this is something a lawyer and doctor can help work out for you).
  • Work injury damages payout. Sometimes referred to as a common law claim, these can provide you with a lump sum payment for injuries caused by your employer’s negligence. Successful claims need to show that your employer owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident, that they breached their duty of care and that this was what caused your injury. In NSW, you generally won’t receive any further compensation payments if you make a successful common law claim.

How much do I get paid on workers compensation?

Here’s a table outlining how much and how long you are eligible for with workers compensation.

Time Compensation entitlement
For the first 13 weeks 95% of your pre-injury weekly earnings or the maximum weekly compensation amount (currently $2,242.40 from 1 October to 31 March 2021), whichever is less. This cap applies to most payments*.
Weeks 14-130
    • Unable to work at all. 80% of your pre-injury weekly earnings.
  • Working less than 15 hours a week. 80% of your pre-injury weekly earnings, minus the amount that you are earning.
  • Working 15 hours or more a week. 95% of your pre-injury weekly earnings, minus the amount that you are earning.
Weeks 131-260 You can receive up to 80% of your pre-injury weekly earnings if:

  • You’re assessed as likely to be off work indefinitely. 
  • Your permanent impairment is greater than 20%.
After 5 years Weekly payments stop after five years unless your impairment has been assessed as greater than 20%.

*The maximum weekly compensation amount changes in April and October each year.

How long can you receive weekly workers compensation payments?

You can continue to receive payments until you:

  • Are fit and able to return to work full-time, or;
  • Receive a work injury damages payout
  • Reach the five year limit (unless your permanent impairment is assessed to be greater than 20%)
  • Reach the maximum weekly compensation amount
  • Reach retirement age (you may be able to receive weekly payments for an additional 12 months from your retirement date)

Can you get workers compensation for life in NSW?

Yes, though it’s uncommon. Most workers compensation payments stop after five years but you can continue to receive weekly payments after this time if you’ve been assessed as having a permanent impairment of more than 20%. 

In addition to weekly compensation payments, you might also be entitled to lump sum compensation for permanent impairment at this stage. To receive this, it needs to be unlikely that your current medical condition will improve and you’ll need to be assessed by a medical specialist listed as a trained permanent impairment assessor.

What is the maximum payout for workers compensation in NSW?

The maximum weekly payments you can receive change every April and October, so the precise amount you can get will differ depending on when you make a claim. The table below shows the maximum weekly amounts dating back to 2018 and how much you could receive in total over the full five years you’re entitled to compensation. 

Dates Maximum weekly payment amount Maximum payout for weekly benefits over 5 years
1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021  $2,242.40 $583,024
1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020  $2,224.00 $578,240
1 October 2019 to 31 March 2020  $2,195.70  $570,882
1 April 2019 to 30 September 2019 $2,177.40 $566,124
1 April 2018 to 30 September 2018  $2,128.50 $553,410

Information from NSW Workers Compensation Benefits Guide, October 2020. Accessed February 2021.

Keep in mind, these are only the weekly payments for loss of earnings that you can receive. You should also be covered for medical costs, rehabilitation and other treatment you need because of the injury or illness, including travel costs to and from places you receive care.  

You might also be entitled to a lump sum payout if your injury or illness was serious. Lump sum compensation payments are determined by your employer’s insurer, so it’s definitely worth seeking legal advice if you want to get the maximum amount that you deserve. 

For a clearer idea of how much you could be able to get, you can leave your details for a call back.

Is WorkCover the same as workers compensation?

Yes, WorkCover is another name for NSW workers compensation. The two terms are often used interchangeably, so if you see one of them, you’ll find that it’s probably referring to the same scheme.

When does workers compensation give you a lump sum?

There are two types of workers compensation lump sum settlements. These are:

  • Permanent impairment payouts. You can receive this lump sum payment when a medical specialist says that it’s unlikely that your current condition will change and you’ve been assessed as seriously permanently impaired.
  • Work injury damages payouts. You can receive a work injury damages payout (sometimes called a common law claim) if your injury or illness was due to your employer’s negligence.  

Do workers compensation cases end in a settlement?

Sometimes. Workers compensation is a little different from other types of claims, such as motor accident claims or personal injury claims — which aim to work towards a settlement that both parties can agree on — because they’re designed to cover lost wages and medical expenses so that you can transition back to work. Only some cases end in settlement. For example, if you:

  • Make a successful work injury damages claim. If you’re awarded a lump sum payout for a common law claim, you won’t be entitled to any more compensation. Keep in mind that this is different from a permanent impairment lump sum payout, where you may still be eligible for weekly payments. 
  • Agree to a workers compensation settlement. You can in some cases receive a lump sum payout if you’re able to come to an agreement with your employer’s insurer. Remember though, if you do this, you risk not being properly compensated, depending on how much and for how long they agree to pay you. 

Can you return to work after a workers compensation settlement?

Yes. If you’ve received a permanent impairment lump sum — which only pays out if a medical specialist believes your condition is unlikely to improve — but you get better, you should generally have no issues returning to work.

Whether you’ve received workers compensation in the past or not shouldn’t have any impact on your ability to get work in the future.

Can you get a pain and suffering payment under workers compensation in NSW?

No. In NSW, you can’t claim payments for pain and suffering under the Workers Compensation Act. It’s also not available if you make a lump sum claim for permanent impairment.

The main reason for this is that pain and suffering is a type of non-economic loss that compensates you for the physical and psychological toll an accident has had on you. Workers compensation isn’t set up to do that; rather, it covers you for the financial burdens that come with getting injured at work, like loss of earnings and future loss of earnings.

That doesn’t mean you’re out of options though. If you feel you deserve compensation for the psychological impact an injury has had on you, it’s worth seeking legal advice. You can get in touch with one of our personal injury lawyers to talk about next steps.

What is a work injury damages claim?

A work injury damages claim lets you seek a lump sum payout if your injury was caused by your employer’s negligence. It’s sometimes also called a common law claim. Once you receive a work injury damages claim, you won’t be entitled to receive any more weekly payments under workers compensation. To be eligible, you also need to have:

  • Proof that the work injury was due to your employer’s negligence
  • At least 15% permanent impairment (determined by a permanent impairment assessor)
  • Been awarded all other lump sum payments for permanent impairment that you are entitled to receive.

If you think you’re eligible for work injury damages, or believe that your work injury was your employer’s fault, you can get free legal advice by chatting with one of our personal injury lawyers. 

How do I claim work injury damages?

To submit a work injury damages claim in NSW, you’ll need to provide your employer’s insurer with the following information:

  • What type of injury or condition you have and any impairments associated with it
  • When and where the injury occurred
  • Any previous injuries or illnesses that may have caused the impairments
  • Any previous compensation you were awarded for past conditions
  • Any previous job you had that might have caused the injury
  • Evidence of how your employer was negligent
  • Your loss of earnings, future loss of earnings and medical expenses

What to do if you don’t accept the work injury damages settlement

If you’re not happy with the insurer’s work injury damages settlement offer, you can take the dispute to court. You generally need to do this within three years of the injury date. Before you do that though, you or your lawyer will need to complete a pre-filing statement which will lay out the particulars of the claim and the evidence you’ll rely on to substantiate it. The Workers Compensation Commission will then attempt to mediate and reach an agreement between the parties involved.

The thought of taking the matter to court might seem stressful, but it’s sometimes the only way you can get the compensation you deserve. It’s also a lot less nerve-racking if you have legal representation that you can trust. If you’re unhappy with the settlement you’ve been offered or want advice, you can call us on 13 WMCW (13 96 29) or complete our call back form and one of our lawyers will get in touch with you.