At Brazel Moore Lawyers, we understand that being injured at work can be a stressful time and create a financial burden on an injured worker and their family.
The Independent Review Office (IRO) is an initiative of the NSW Government who will grant free legal advice to those injured at work in NSW.
What does IRO do?
IRO’s main focus is to assist injured workers and those injured in motor vehicle accidents in accessing legal representation about their potential workers compensation entitlements. For injured workers, IRO allows injured workers to obtain free legal advice about potential and established workers compensation claims. IRO is also able to assist in resolving complaints made by an injured working that relate to the insurer’s handling or conduct of a workers compensation claim.
Am I Eligible for Free Legal Advice?
IRO will provide funding to injured workers, excluding those considered ‘exempt workers’, so long as the worker is able to demonstrate that they were injured during the course of employment. An exempt worker includes police officers, firefighters, paramedics, coal miners and workers suffering from a dust disease are not eligible for IRO funding. IRO will also not provide a grant of assistance to workers that fall under the ComCare scheme.
A grant of assistance is not means tested and is in place for the duration of a claim regardless of the result.
What does the Grant of Funding Allow My Lawyer to Investigate?
IRO will provide funding to a workers compensation lawyer to cover all legal costs associated with:
- Providing workers with general advice regarding their rights and entitlements under NSW workers compensation legislation;
- Making and investigating a workers compensation claim;
- Challenging a dispute notice issued by the insurer in relation to a claim;
- Having a dispute determined in the Personal Injury Commission (PIC); and
- Accessing death benefits.
IRO will also fund disbursements where it is reasonably necessary to conduct investigations, obtain evidence or incur expenses to progress a claim or matter. Most disbursements are subject to a gazetted rate determined by the State Insurer Regulation Authority (SIRA). IRO will not fund anything in excess of the gazetted rate.
How is Funding from IRO Administered?
Upon instruction from an injured worker, a lawyer will make a request for grant of funding to IRO. IRO will respond to the application within five (5) days.
STAGE ONE – Preliminary Legal Advice
At stage one, the injured worker can receive early legal advice about their entitlements to workers compensation.
At this stage, the lawyer will complete a worker’s injury claim form on behalf of the workers and conduct preliminary investigations which includes obtaining clinical notes from the worker’s treating doctors and specialists.
STAGE TWO – Investigations and Claims
At stage two, the lawyer will continue to induct further investigations into a claim which may include having the worker assessed by an independent medico-legal doctor to assess their injury, cause, treatment and potential whole person impairment.
At stage two, the lawyer will also attempt to resolve the matter with the insurer and avoid the need to go to the Personal Injury Commission (PIC).
STAGE THREE – Proceedings in the Personal Injury Commission
IRO will grant funding where they believe there is an arguable case to proceed to the Personal Injury Commission and there have been sufficient attempts to resolve the matter with the insurer or their legal representative.
At stage three, the lawyer will commence proceedings in the Personal Injury Commission to have the matter determined by a Member. The decisions made in the Personal Injury Commission are binding on all parties.
STAGE FOUR – Appeals and Reconsiderations
In the event that a decision of the Personal Injury Commission must be appealed, IRO will extend the grant of assistance to fund such appeal or request for reconsideration.
If you believe you have been injured at work and need assistance in ensuring you receive your workers compensation entitlements, please contact the team at Brazel Moore Lawyers Central Coast on (02) 4324 7699 and speak with a member of our Workers Compensation Central Coast team.