Commuting and workers compensation

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Commuting and workers compensation

Postby xavdav » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:48 pm

As I understand, every employee is covered by his company's worker's comp insurance when at work, on his way to work and on is way back from work. Since riding a bike to work seems to involve a bit more risks than walking, taking the bus or the train or driving you own car, I was wondering what an insurance company would make of a case involving a commuter on a bicycle :?: My current employer is not really a bastard but I know his worker's comp insurance company is :twisted: Could not they argue that by riding a bike I was somehow negligent and kind of asking for trouble and as a result refuse to honor a claim?
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by BNA » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:03 pm

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Postby ni78ck » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:03 pm

i would say your still covered. i will ask the wife tonight as she works in workers comp!
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Postby m@ » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:08 pm

Seem to recall that part of the previous govt's workplace reform meant that you're no longer covered unless you're driving... that may have only applied to the public service though.
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Postby xavdav » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:10 pm

ni78ck wrote:i would say your still covered. i will ask the wife tonight as she works in workers comp!


An insider opinion is always good :wink:
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Postby Strawburger » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:10 pm

Never i would have thought. If you are travelling to or from work and involved with an accident it is covered through the insurance company of your employer. I am pretty sure it's covered whether you are at fault or not.
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Postby xavdav » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:17 pm

Strawburger wrote:Never i would have thought. If you are travelling to or from work and involved with an accident it is covered through the insurance company of your employer. I am pretty sure it's covered whether you are at fault or not.


What I am wondering is :is there ground for an insurance companie to turn down a claim by arguing that you are not travelling by the safest way? regardless if you are at fault or not.
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Postby m@ » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:22 pm

xavdav wrote:
Strawburger wrote:Never i would have thought. If you are travelling to or from work and involved with an accident it is covered through the insurance company of your employer. I am pretty sure it's covered whether you are at fault or not.


What I am wondering is :is there ground for an insurance companie to turn down a claim by arguing that you are not travelling by the safest way? regardless if you are at fault or not.

Sounds dubious to me; by the same logic a claim should be rejected if the car didn't have a five-star safety rating...
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Postby Strawburger » Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:16 pm

Can't see anywhere on the workcover website about at-fault accidents or anything to do with high risk activity. So as long as you aren't travelling to and from work by being shot out of a cannon, the employers/insurers can't refuse workers comp as far as i can tell.
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Postby hartleymartin » Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:37 pm

Depending on which statistics you look at you are 3 times more likely to be killed as a pedestrian and twice as likely to be killed as a bus passenger than you are as a cyclist on the road.
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Postby jasimon » Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:30 pm

As a Commonwealth agency employee I am no longer covered by workers comp on the way to and from work or at lunch (the major source of claims, I understand, were for twisted ankles playing lunch-time sport or similar). Commcare is, however, a 'no fault' scheme; so no proof of negligence by anyone is required. A 'no fault' coverage means that it doesn't really matter if you are cycling or riding the bus - that is, if I were covered anymore.

But other schemes still cover trips to and from work and are probably 'no fault' as well.
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Postby il padrone » Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:44 pm

In Victoria that scenario is simple. There are no insurance companies to choose from, only Workcover. And back in the 90s our Jeff Kennet (haachtooee!!) removed all rights to claim for injuries while travelling to or from work. If you're involved in an accident with a motor vehicle or PT vehicle, you are covered by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), if no other vehicle.... bad luck, you're on your own :( . Lesson to learn - ride on the roads not the bike paths. Any accident is more likely to involve a motor vehicle, giving you TAC cover. Statistically the bike paths are at least as dangerous as the roads.
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Postby sharktamin » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:55 pm

If two bicycles had a head on on a public road, is anyone covered?
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Postby il padrone » Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:18 pm

Nup. Call your lawyers. TAC rubs their hands of it - no motor vehicle involved.
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Postby njg02 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:27 am

The way I've always understood it in NSW is if you travel your 'usual route' in your 'usual way', then you are covered.

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Postby newcommuter » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:15 pm

If you are worried about insurance and being covered, probably best you pay $95 for one year with bicycle Victoria and they cover you!
Visit their website for all the details. For that price you get magazine, memership and few other things!

Good value I reckon!
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Postby uMP2k » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:17 pm

il padrone wrote: And back in the 90s our Jeff Kennet (haachtooee!!) removed all rights to claim for injuries while travelling to or from work...


Ditto in WA - just replace Jeff Kennet with Richard Court... :(
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Postby il padrone » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:31 pm

newcommuter wrote:If you are worried about insurance and being covered, probably best you pay $95 for one year with bicycle Victoria and they cover you!

Uh, no they don't! Useless for any minor claims, you'll be left out of pocket

Workcover/TAC cover all costs. BV's insurace has something like a $200 excess. You have to work up a fair bit of medical costs to be out of pocket more than $200, so that membership value is spurious. When I needed it I got back a measly $50 or so. I just plan to self-insure now.
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Postby 18htan » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:04 pm

il padrone wrote:I just plan to self-insure now.


How do you plan on doing that?
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Postby vitualis » Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:28 pm

Remember, worker's compensation is not about fault. It is insurance to cover costs from injury resulting from work related activities. Unless you are no longer covered for travel to and from work, then it doesn't matter whether you drove, walked or cycled.

However, it must be direct travel between work and home. If you decided to take an extended route back home, it may well not be covered. Similarly, going to the shops on the way home to work (and then being injured in the carpark) would not be covered.

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Postby il padrone » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:33 pm

18htan wrote:
il padrone wrote:I just plan to self-insure now.


How do you plan on doing that?

Pay the bills myself. Draw on our line of credit as needed. Monies saved by not paying insurance go back into our account and we budget and stick to it (reasonably well).
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Postby trundle » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:48 am

I had an accident on my bike on the way home from work in 2006. Workers' comp paid for everything.

If you are covered for travel to and from work (some people aren't), the fact that you are riding a bike will not make any difference. I believe the only thing that makes a difference is whether you are "at fault" - e.g. if you are riding on the footpath and you come off while swerving to miss a pedestrian, you are probably cactus.

I was riding on the road and I fell off of my own accord. The insurers never questioned it.
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Postby thomas_cho » Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:57 pm

I think you would be prudent to check in with your employer.

I work for the Australian Government, and 2 years ago, the workers comp changed so that we were no longer covered for that trip from home to work. And that was in the spirit of being in line with the private sector.

There was a "protest" from the unions, but I dont believe anything came from it.

I did ask specifically about cycling to work, and was advised to cover myself via personal insurance.
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Postby wombatK » Sun Mar 15, 2009 1:48 pm

vitualis wrote:Remember, worker's compensation is not about fault. It is insurance to cover costs from injury resulting from work related activities. Unless you are no longer covered for travel to and from work, then it doesn't matter whether you drove, walked or cycled.

However, it must be direct travel between work and home. If you decided to take an extended route back home, it may well not be covered. Similarly, going to the shops on the way home to work (and then being injured in the carpark) would not be covered.

Cheers.

+1

Workers Compensation does not cover employee journey claims in WA, SA, Tas and Vic - and there is a push on to make them not allowable in any state. (it's called competition reform).

I think you're right about taking a direct route, but not sure what direct means. Would a minor diversion to pick up kids, post or shopping diminish your rights ? While you might not do these things on a cycle commute, you could be using a safer cycleway or quieter back roads that would not be the shortest route home. Even in a car, a somewhat longer route via a freeway can be quicker than a shorter route through suburbia. To be fair, "direct" would need some interpretation.
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Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:07 pm

It is safe to assume that, unless you know to the contrary, the concept of being covered to and from work by workers comp has been taken away from you a couple of decades back. You'd have to take your own civil action for whatever you can demonstrate was lost to you but that would not be against the person causing you the loss and not the employer. You can be pretty certain that such rights we USED to have to be covered by the boss to and from work no longer apply, having been removed by legislation in each state.

RE two bike colliding on a public road, this is a separate issue involving compulsory third party motorist insurance whjich is what you pay for when you pay your drivers license fee. It's an interesting question which I am inclined to chase up. Riders don't pay into the scheme yet those injured by unlicensed drivers get coverage. Is a cycleway covered? I suspect often so as verges are considred part of the road under most jurisdictions (the hardtop yo actually drive along is the carriageway, quaint). But what about a cyclepath between houses? That is certainly not part of the defined road. Hmmm.
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Postby wombatK » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:55 pm

ColinOldnCranky wrote:It is safe to assume that, unless you know to the contrary, the concept of being covered to and from work by workers comp has been taken away from you a couple of decades back. You'd have to take your own civil action for whatever you can demonstrate was lost to you but that would not be against the person causing you the loss and not the employer. You can be pretty certain that such rights we USED to have to be covered by the boss to and from work no longer apply, having been removed by legislation in each state.

RE two bike colliding on a public road, this is a separate issue involving compulsory third party motorist insurance whjich is what you pay for when you pay your drivers license fee. It's an interesting question which I am inclined to chase up. Riders don't pay into the scheme yet those injured by unlicensed drivers get coverage. Is a cycleway covered? I suspect often so as verges are considred part of the road under most jurisdictions (the hardtop yo actually drive along is the carriageway, quaint). But what about a cyclepath between houses? That is certainly not part of the defined road. Hmmm.

Sorry Colin, but I do know to the contrary - from personal involvement in a bicycle to bicycle collision on Ride to Work Day 2007. There was absolutely no argument from my employer as to liability for workers compensation; nor from any doctors etc.,. which treated my injuries. Do you have any specific information that this no longer applies in NSW (please give me a reference to the appropriate parliamentary bill, by-law or regulation etc.,. which took away this right) ? At the very least, my experience disproves your claim that the right was taken away decades ago.

In relation to road accidents, bicyclists are third parties where collisions with cars are involved - just like pedestrians. And guess what, pedestrians don't have to buy a license fee or anything for the "benefit" of motorists 3rd party insurance. The only thing unfair about this is that motorists impose huge costs on the community and vulnerable road users that are met from the public purse rather than vehicle registration, driver licensing and insurance cover. Third party insurance only covers a small part of it - and absolutely none of it where the damage is minor and medicare picks up the health care tab.

A cyclepath between houses is covered by the National Road Rules. Your entitlements to pursue remedies against parties at fault in collisions is the same as on any roadway. If a motor vehicle or motor bike caused damage to you while walking on a footpath, or cycling on a shared cycleway or cycleway, you would also be covered if the vehicle it is registered and therefore has paid up 3rd party insurance - even if illegally driven on a footpath or cycleway.
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