Employees' Compensation

Q: What is Employees' Compensation Claim?
A: Under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (ECO), an employer is required to pay compensation to an employee who suffers bodily injury in an accident arising out of and in the course of employment, or who suffers from an occupational disease prescribed in the ECO.

Q: Is there any time limit for making a claim for compensation for work injuries?
A: Generally speaking, claims for compensation for work-related injuries must be made within two years from the date of the accident.

Q: What should I do if I am injured at work?
A: You should notify your employer immediately and seek medical treatment as soon as possible, or call the police if necessary. If possible, take photographs of the scene of the accident. You should also keep all documents related to your claim, including sick leave certificates and medical bills.

Q: How much can I claim for workers' compensation?
A: As each person's income, age and the extent of injury varies, no generalization can be made. Depending on the result of the assessment by the Employees' Compensation Assessment Board of the Labour Department, the employee or his/her surviving members of the family may claim against the employer for (i) loss of earnings; (ii) medical expenses; and (iii) and prosthetic organs and surgical appliances.

Q: What can I do if I disagree with the result of the assessment?
A: You can lodge an appeal within 14 days.

Q: What should I do if my employer refuses to recognize the injury?
A: Each case is different. You should notify the Labour Department and collect evidence such as photos of the accident scene and engage a lawyer as soon as possible.

Q: If my employer's Workers' Compensation Insurance lapses (commonly known as being kicked out), will it affect my claim?
A: If your employer's workers' compensation insurance lapses, then your workers' compensation will be paid by your employer.

Q: What should I do if my employer declares bankruptcy after my workers' compensation insurance lapses?
A: Even if your employer is bankrupt, you are still covered by the Employees' Compensation Assistance Fund.

Q: Do I have to hire a lawyer to file a employees' compensation claim for me?
A: No. If there is no dispute between the employer and the employee on the report of accident and injury, the employer or the insurance company may pay you compensation according to assessment and the compensation formula stipulated in the Employees' Compensation Ordinance. However, if there are further disputes on whether the accident is a work-related injury or the severity of the injury, or if the employer refuses to pay you the compensation you are entitled to, or if the employer makes unreasonable demands on you for compensation, etc., you should seek assistance from the Labour Department or engage a lawyer immediately.

Q: Can I appoint a loss adjuster to settle with my employer?
A: A loss adjuster usually acts on behalf of the insurance company/employer and does not protect your interests. If you accept a settlement offer from a loss adjuster, you may be able to get your compensation sooner. However, you should be careful in the settlement process so that you do not give wrong or unfavorable information to the employer or the insurance company, and you should be careful to avoid signing documents by mistake which may jeopardize your claim and make sure that the amount of compensation is reasonable.

Q: What should I do if I am approached by many claims agents in the hospital?
A: Claims agents are not lawyers and are not subject to professional codes of conduct. Some of them may even use illegal means such as "no win, no fee" and "compensation sharing" to handle your case, which ultimately reduces the amount of compensation you are entitled to. To ensure that you are reasonably compensated and your interests are protected, you should engage a professional and trustworthy solicitor to handle your claim, or apply for legal aid or discuss with your solicitor if you are in financial difficulties.

Q: What should I do if I have financial difficulties and cannot afford to hire a lawyer?
A: You can apply for legal aid or discuss with your solicitor. You may also discuss with your solicitor and ask him/her to collect the solicitor's fees only at the conclusion of the case, or to reduce the amount of solicitor's fee deposit, as the employer or the insurance company pays the solicitor's fees in most work injury claims.

Q: If I believe the accident was caused by the employer's or a third party's negligence, do I have any other claims?
A: If you believe that the injury was caused by negligence, you can pursue negligence claims against your employer or a third party at common law, in addition to a workers' compensation claim. Generally speaking, the amount of compensation for a negligence claim is higher than that for employees’ compensation. You can start with an employees’ compensation claim to get a lump sum as soon as possible to cover your living expenses, and at the same time pursue a negligence claim. Please note that but your negligence claim amount will have to be reduced by the amount of the employees’ compensation, i.e. you cannot make a double claim.

Q: Can you give me an example?
A: Suppose you are a professional driver and during the course of your employment another private car hitting your company car from behind, injuring you. You can file an employees' compensation claim against your employer, and a claim against the private car driver who negligently injured you. You can start with an employees' compensation claim for $300,000 and then you can claim the insurer of the private car driver for $1,000,000. Since you have already received $300,000 in employees' compensation, the private car driver's payment will be reduced by the amount of the employees' compensation claim. That is, you will receive in total $1,000,000 for compensation I both claims, but not $1,300,000.

Q: What should I do if I am an employer and I suspect that my employee is faking an injury at work?
A: The employer can object to the work injury, but you still have to report the injury to the Labour Department and the insurance company.

It is difficult to generalize as everyone's situation is different. In order to protect your legal rights, you should appoint a solicitor as soon as possible to handle the claim for you.