Coal Mine Workers Compensation & Redemption Settlements

Workers injured in the coal mining industry of New South Wales have distinct rights in regards to workers compensation claims and entitlements.

Coal mining is a dangerous profession, and workers in this industry face a high risk of injury or death due to accidents. As a result, workers’ compensation is crucial for coal mine workers, as it provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their work. The benefits can include medical care, wage replacement, and other forms of support.

While workers compensation for the coal mining industry is similar in many ways, there is a key difference with the coal mining scheme: injured workers can settle their claim on an overall basis – a type of settlement known as a redemption settlement.

Coal miners compensation claims can be complex and this area of law has evolved over time. There are many different types of benefits available to an injured coal mine worker, depending on the nature and severity of their injuries.


How is Coal Mine Workers' Compensation Different in NSW?

In general, an employee who makes a coal miners compensation claim has the following rights:

  • Weekly payments of compensation: these payments are usually until one year after they are eligible for the aged pension.
  • Expenses covered: medical and treatment expenses for the rest of their life.
  • Lump sum payments: this is compensation for any loss of function or use of the injured body part. If the injury deteriorates over time or needs further treatment, the injured coal mine worker is entitled to seek further lump sum payments as compensation.
  • Pain and suffering: compensation for pain and suffering which you have and will continue to endure as a result of the coal mining injuries or illness.

Coal mining is a hazardous occupation that exposes workers to a range of risks, including injury, illness, and death. As a result, the New South Wales government has implemented a specific workers’ compensation scheme for coal mine workers to protect their rights and provide them with adequate compensation in the event of an injury or illness.


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Coal Mines Insurance (CMI)

The Coal Mines Insurance (CMI) scheme is responsible for administering workers’ compensation for the NSW coal mining industry. This scheme was established in 1922 and has been managed by Coal Services and its subsidiary companies, CMI and Mines Rescue since 2002.

Under this scheme, employers in the coal industry are required to take out workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The Coal Industry Act 2001 (NSW) mandates that approved workers’ compensation insurance be taken out by an “employer in the coal industry.” This includes companies that extract coal, process coal, or provide services to the coal industry.

The CMI scheme provides coverage for a range of injuries and illnesses, including physical and psychological injuries, as well as occupational diseases such as black lung disease. The scheme also provides rehabilitation services to help injured workers return to work as soon as possible.

Common Law Claims for Coal Miners

Further, if your injury was caused by an unsafe system of work you may be entitled to bring a “common law” claim for a lump sum of damages for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of past wages/superannuation benefits
  • Loss of future earnings/superannuation benefits
  • Medical and treatment expenses
  • Personal care and domestic assistance

For injured workers looking to make common law claims, there are time limits to be aware of. A claim must be commenced by filing court proceedings within three years of the date of the injury.

If you believe you may have grounds to make a common law claim, it’s best to contact a workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

Legislation and Regulatory Framework

Coal Industry Act 2001

The Coal Industry Act 2001 is an important piece of legislation that regulates the coal mining industry in Australia. The Act establishes the Coal Industry Tribunal, which has the power to hear and determine disputes relating to the coal industry. It also provides for the establishment of the Coal Industry Advisory Board, which advises the Minister on matters relating to the industry.

The Act also sets out the licensing requirements for coal mining operations, including the requirement to obtain a mining lease. It also provides for the regulation of coal mining operations, including the requirement to comply with environmental standards and to rehabilitate land after mining operations have ceased.

Eligibility Criteria for Compensation

Employment Status

To be eligible for workers’ compensation, coal mine workers must be classified as employees. This means that they must be under a contract of service, rather than a contract for service. In other words, they must be working under the direction and control of an employer, rather than working as an independent contractor.

Coal mine workers may be eligible for compensation if they suffer an injury or disease related to their work. This may include physical injuries, such as fractures, sprains, or strains, as well as occupational diseases, such as black lung disease (pneumoconiosis).

To be eligible for compensation, the injury or disease must have arisen out of or in the course of the worker’s employment. This means that the injury or disease must have been caused or aggravated by the worker’s work activities, or by the conditions of their workplace.

It is important to note that workers may be eligible for compensation even if they were partly responsible for the injury or disease. This is because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that fault or negligence is not taken into account when determining eligibility for compensation.

Claims Process

Coal mine workers who get injured while working in a mine site are entitled to make a workers’ compensation claim. The claims process involves several steps that must be followed to ensure that the injured worker gets the compensation they deserve.

Initiating a Claim

The first step in the claims process is to initiate a claim by notifying the employer or the insurance company about the injury. Injured workers should report the injury as soon as possible and seek medical attention. Once the injury has been reported, the worker can complete and sign a Workers Injury Claim form. If the worker is unable to complete the form, they can ask someone to assist them.

Documentation and Evidence

The next step is to provide documentation and evidence to support the claim. This includes providing a SIRA Certificate of Capacity, which outlines the nature of the injury, the worker’s capacity to work, and treatment requirements. The worker must also provide any medical reports, X-rays, or other evidence that supports the claim.

Assessment and Decision

Once all the necessary documentation and evidence have been provided, the claim will be assessed by the insurance company, CMI. CMI will consider all the evidence and make a decision on whether to approve or deny the claim. If the claim is approved, the worker will receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other related expenses. If the claim is denied, the worker can appeal the decision.

Types of Compensation Payment for Coal Miners

Coal miners are exposed to various risks and hazards in their daily work, which can result in injuries, illnesses, and even death. To protect the rights of injured coal miners, the Australian government has established a workers’ compensation scheme that provides financial assistance to those who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. There are several types of compensation payment that coal miners may be entitled to, including:

Medical and Rehabilitation Expenses

Coal miners who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses may be entitled to compensation for their medical and rehabilitation expenses. This includes the cost of medical treatment, hospitalisation, surgery, medication, and rehabilitation services. The compensation covers all reasonable and necessary expenses related to the injury or illness, and is paid directly to the medical service provider.

Income Support

Coal miners who are unable to work due to a work-related injury or illness may be entitled to income support payments. This includes weekly payments for loss of income while they are unable to work. The amount of the payment is based on the coal miner’s pre-injury earnings and is subject to a maximum amount set by law.

Permanent Impairment Compensation

Coal miners who suffer permanent impairment as a result of a work-related injury or illness may be entitled to permanent impairment compensation. This is a lump sum payment that is calculated based on the degree of permanent impairment suffered by the coal miner. The amount of the payment is determined by a medical assessment and is subject to a maximum amount set by law.

Redemption Settlement

Redemption settlement is an overall settlement, paid as a tax-free lump sum payment, that is made to a coal miner who has suffered a work-related injury or illness and has reached maximum medical improvement. This payment is made in exchange for the coal miner giving up his or her right to ongoing weekly payments for loss of income and future compensation entitlements. The amount of the payment is based on the coal miner’s pre-injury earnings and is subject to a maximum amount set by law.

A redemption settlement must be approved by a Judge of the District Court of New South Wales, due to the final nature of the settlement. For this process, you have to make a formal application before a Judge and present medical evidence to Court providing details of the injuries and ongoing incapacity. The injured or ill worker is then sworn into the witness box and asked a series of questions regarding their personal circumstances and to ascertain that the worker understands the nature of the settlement. If the Judge is satisfied that the worker understands and the amount is appropriate for the injury or illness, it will be formally approved.

A redemption settlement may also be an appropriate option if your claim is being disputed with Coal Mines Insurance, or, in circumstances where you have, or are about to retire from the industry. 

Whether or not to accept a redemption claim is a big decision and one that should not be taken lightly, as all future entitlements to compensation will cease. It’s important to make sure you understand the full implications of the settlement by receiving independent legal advice and that the amount will be appropriate for managing your care from that point onwards. Before committing to a redemption settlement, contact experienced workers compensation lawyers for proper legal advice.

Dispute Resolution

When a coal mine worker’s compensation claim is denied, you have the right to dispute the decision. There are two main ways to resolve disputes related to workers’ compensation claims: internal review and external appeals.

Internal Review

The first step in the dispute resolution process is an internal review. This involves a review of the decision by the insurer or employer. The worker can request an internal review if they believe the decision was incorrect or unfair. The internal review process is designed to provide an opportunity for the insurer or employer to reconsider their decision.

During the internal review process, the worker can provide additional information or evidence to support their claim. The insurer or employer must respond to the request for review within a specified time frame. If the worker is not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, they can then proceed to an external appeal.

External Appeals

If the worker is not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review, they can appeal the decision externally, within the residual jurisdiction of the District Court . The external appeal process is more formal than the internal review process and involves a hearing.

During the Court process, the worker can present evidence and arguments to support their claim. The Court  will then consider the evidence and make a binding determination. 

It is important to note that the dispute resolution process can be a lengthy and complex process. It is recommended that workers seek legal advice and representation to ensure they are properly supported throughout the process. Additionally, the worker should keep detailed records of all communications and evidence related to their claim to assist in the dispute resolution process.

Key Takeaways

Work with Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyers

Our legal team is experienced in dealing a variety of personal injury law matters, including workers compensation, and are able to provide legal advice and guidance on the court process.

The team at Burke Mead Lawyers are experts in personal injury legal services and can assist you throughout this process to protect your legal rights and help achieve the best outcomes for your family – contact Burke Mead Lawyers today.

About the Author
Ebony Purcell

Ebony Purcell is an Associate in the Family Law Team at Burke Mead Lawyers. Ebony’s experience as a solicitor exclusively in family law spans more than 10 years advocating for her clients. She also regularly appears for clients in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia both locally and throughout the country.