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Who is IRO and How do they Help Injured Workers in NSW?

Who is IRO and How do they Help Injured Workers in NSW?

Published on May 18, 2021 by Sabrina Morell and Scott DougallSabrina Morell and Scott Dougall

The Independent Review Office (IRO), formally known as the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) is a NSW Government Agency established to assist injured workers with:

  1. Receiving free legal advice about a potential or existing workers compensation claim; and
  2. Resolving complaints about an insurer’s handling of a workers compensation claim.

Entitlement to Free Legal Advice and Representation

Most Injured workers in NSW are eligible to obtain funding from IRO to receive free legal advice about a potential or existing claim, regardless of their individual financial circumstances. “Exempt workers” including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, coal miners and workers suffering from a dust disease are not eligible for IRO funding.

IRO does not provide legal advice themselves but will provide funding to a workers compensation lawyer to cover all legal costs and expenses associated with:

  • Making and investigating a workers compensation claim;
  • Challenging an unfavourable decision about a claim;
  • Providing workers with general advice regarding their rights and entitlements under NSW workers compensation legislation; and
  • Accessing death benefits.

The types of unfavourable decisions which would require legal advice include:

  1. An insurer’s decision to refuse payment of weekly compensation benefits, medical treatment expenses or lump sum compensation for permanent impairment.
  2. A work capacity decision issued by an insurer to reduce a worker’s entitlement to weekly compensation benefits.
  3. An employer’s refusal to provide an injured worker with suitable duties when they can return to work in a modified capacity.

Click here to find out if you are eligible for free legal advice funded by IRO.

Complaints against Insurers

IRO also investigates and resolves complaints made by workers about an insurer’s conduct.

As IRO is unable to provide legal advice, the types of issues IRO will investigate will often relate to procedural matters, for example, an insurer’s failure or delay in determining a compensation claim.

IRO will liaise with both the worker and insurer to investigate the complaint and will attempt to resolve the issue by clarifying the problem and if necessary, negotiating a fair compromise.

Click here for an overview of IRO’s complaints process.

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