LPLC has received a number of claims arising out of practitioners missing time limits in workplace injury compensation matters and some of these claims have been from experienced practitioners. The practitioners have failed to comply with the time limits imposed by section134AB of the Accident Compensation Act 1985 (Vic) or section 335 of the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic).
Practitioners always need to be conscious that the time limits in this area of law are very short and, unlike other general time limits under the Limitation of Actions Act 1958 (Vic), are very difficult to overcome if not complied with.
In one claim, a practitioner represented a claimant regarding a workplace injury. When the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) rejected the claimant’s serious injury application, the claimant had 30 days under section 134AB(16) of the Accident Compensation Act in which to seek leave to bring proceedings for recovery of damages.
The practitioner was aware of the time limit. However, because the 30 days expired during the court’s Christmas vacation period when time was suspended under the County Court Civil Procedure Rules 2008 (Vic) (Rules), the practitioner mistakenly believed that time fixed by the Accident Compensation Act would also be suspended. That is not the case, as the Rules regarding time limits apply only to proceedings governed by those Rules and not other legislation. Time was not suspended and proceedings had to be issued in accordance with the legislation.
The VWA subsequently rejected the claimant’s request for relief under section 134AB(20) because they could not show a good reason for the delay.
It is essential that practitioners in the workplace injuries area are aware of relevant time limits which operate independently of the Rules and the need for strict compliance. In each matter the applicable time limit should be carefully ascertained, calculated and diarised as early as possible.
For more information about time limits refer to LPLC practice risk guide Know your limits.