In a significant win for unions and workers that have continued to pressure the Government about its plans to make workers pay their own legal costs, Greg Pearce, NSW Minister for Finance & Services, has announced a new Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service (ILARS).
While not as good as the previous system, this represents a significant back down from the user pays legal costs proposal originally passed by Parliament in June this year.
Features of the new system include:
Step 1: A free legal review service within the WorkCover Independent Review Office (WIRO) – no legal expenses need be covered by the worker.
Step 2: Reviews will be conducted by independent legal experts in the area of workers compensation.
Step 3: Where the insurer does not agree with the opinion of that independent legal advice, workers MAY be provided with independent legal representation to pursue matters in the Workers Compensation Commission following a merit review.
Injured workers who don’t wish to use this process or who do not get free representation granted under the third step will need to take their claim to the Workers Compensation Commission at their own expense.
Any claims lodged before 1 October 2012 will be dealt with under the old scheme that allows injured workers to have proper free independent legal representation before the Workers Compensation Commission.
The new arrangements for costs and access to ILARS will immediately take effect for new claims made on or after 1 October 2012.
Keep an eye on the NSW For All website as we will soon be making changes to re-focus it on stories about the impact of the new workers comp system on injured workers. Contact us with your stories for the website.