While it’s common knowledge that if you sustain a work injury, to help pay for your medical expenses and time off work etc., you are entitled to claim compensation and you should seek the help of a personal injury lawyer. The same applies if you’ve sustained an injury and it’s the fault of the owner of a business, an occupier of a premises or some other entity, you can make a claim on their public liability insurance.

But what about volunteers? In general terms, a volunteer is someone who gives their services for free, even though some volunteers might receive a small reward for their efforts such as travel costs, food or other benefit. But whether you are a volunteer or a paid worker, everyone has a right to be safe at work, and this includes volunteers, who play a crucial role in the communities big and small right across Australia doing unpaid work for a variety of organisations day in, day out.

The many and varied Legislations covering workers’ compensation is a minefield of different Acts(1) for different states and working environments, so if you’re a volunteer, don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer to wade through the law to work out your entitlements if you’re injured whilst going about your volunteer work.

Workers’ Compensation

In some of the many and varied workers’ compensation schemes across Australia, volunteers are excluded from the definition of ‘worker’, as well as from the conditions used by insurers to decide on the cost of premiums. But there often arises some complex situations where volunteers can from time to time take on some paid duties or are paid some form of recompense. But does this deem them ‘workers’ for the purposes of workers compensation if a volunteer sustains an injury? The answer depend on a number of issues, beginning with the state or territory in which the injury occurs.  

The Australian Work Health and Safety Act (WHS) recognises some volunteers as workers and does protect both their mental and physical health whilst engaged in volunteering duties. In NSW for instance, State Legislation for volunteer bushfire brigade members are covered by the Workers Compensation (Bush Fire, Emergency and Rescue Services) Act 1987(2). This Act provides workers compensation entitlements for volunteer firefighters who sustain an injury while fighting a bush fire, and emergency service workers and rescue association workers injured while carrying out an authorised activity.

You’re in safe hands with PK Simpson –

We can help you receive the compensation you deserve if you’re a volunteer injured while carrying out your duties

Workers’ Compensation and Volunteers

Volunteers are not usually covered by Workers’ Compensation Legislation so if they’re injured while doing their volunteer work, they cannot make a claim under the Act, although there are sometimes deeming provisions which mean they can. What usually occurs is the employer will have insurance against accidents which will cover a volunteer who is injured in their workplace or while carrying out their duties. The insurance usually covers any medical expenses and some other benefits if a volunteer is injured, but if this is you, always seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer to help sort out your proper entitlements.

The Australian states, territories and also the Commonwealth workers compensation Acts all have subtle but crucial differences in their particular schemes. Your personal injury lawyer will know whether you as a volunteer come under the workers compensation in your state and whether or not common law duty of care applies, rather than statute. The liability of employers for any injury sustained by a volunteer is very complex question and it needs a professional to answer it. Many organisations are highly appreciative of the valuable work done by their volunteers, and so they want to ensure their health and safety.

A personal injury lawyer can advise you on your particular case should you be unfortunate enough to sustain an injury while carrying out the valuable duties of volunteering in a workplace.

No Win – No Fee – and at PK Simpson, your personal injury lawyer will arrange and pay for all medical reports, so there is no financial strain on your part –

We also win over 99 percent of cases!

Volunteer Workers, Public Liability & Duty of Care

Volunteer organisations have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of anyone who enters their premises, be they volunteers, paid workers, contractors or members of the public. Where workers compensation legislation doesn’t apply, the organisation’s public liability insurance will cover any compensation payable if the duty of care is breached and an injury occurs. Yet even if the person who sustains the injury is clearly a volunteer and outside of the workers compensation Act, the employer will be liable for the costs and/or damages resulting from any injury a volunteer might sustain while engaged by the employer. Your personal injury lawyer can advise you of your rights if you sustain an injury while volunteering.

If you’re a volunteer worker and need information, the Safe Work Australia website has contact details for many volunteering organisations across Australia(2).  

For over 35 years, PK Simpson has been helping the people of NSW get the compensation they are entitled to receive –

Our team is made up of top personal injury lawyer professionals with the skills and experience to make sure your claim is successful

The Importance of Volunteer Workers

Volunteers are a vital part of the Australian economy and therefore they fully deserve to have the same workers’ compensation or public liability cover as regularly employed individuals.  Luckily, there is compensation available for volunteer workers who sustain an injury in the course of their duties in this country. If you’re a volunteer worker and have an accident or injury while carrying out your duties, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer today. Call PK Simpson on 1300 757 467, or email us at enquiries@pksimpson.com.au


  1. http://workplaceohs.com.au/legislation/commonwealth-legislation
  2. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/volunteer-peak-bodies

Frequently Asked Questions

A: The legal definition of a personal injury is general physical and/or psychological damage to a person which is the fault of another party. This can be, for instance, the driver of another vehicle, another person, owner of a public area, or an employer. A physical injury usually involves an injury of a psychological nature or it can be one or the other. Specialist doctors are required to identify the nature of injury to round out a personal injury claim.

A: A personal injury lawyer will represent you if you’ve been injured in an incident or accident that was not your fault. Lawyers such as the specialists at PK Simpson Sydney work in personal injury and compensation law, encompassing deliberate acts and negligence, to claim compensation for you. Apart from all the legal work, lawyers also help you to recover faster by making sure you get the treatment and resources needed. PK Simpson pays for all medical reports needed to maximise your claim and get the best evidence.

A: If you’ve suffered serious bodily, psychological or reputational injuries it’s crucial that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. There are special skills and training and a thorough knowledge of the law required to file a personal injury lawsuit and there are time frames in which you need to lodge your claim. Especially for traffic accidents and medical negligence claims in NSW, you will need an experienced team to handle and build your claim. So the advice is to take action as soon as you are able.

A: At PK Simpson in Sydney we act on a no win, no fee basis and an estimate of the costs will be discussed and clearly explained to you during the preliminary stages of your claim. At the end of your claim, we charge only for the work we’ve done, so if your claim is finalised faster than expected, we charge fees only up to that point. Also, we pay for all medical reports upfront.

Unlike most law firms, we don’t charge a strict percentage which would have you paying a set figure even if the claim settles in two weeks. Costs can be affected by the type of accident, your insurer, liability and other considerations.

A: The length of time you have to make your claim depends on the jurisdiction.

For instance:

  • TPD claims – these may be commenced up to 10 years after you’ve stopped work. TPD claims are very technical and you may have more than one TPD claim.
  • Car accident claims – A personal injury claim form should be filled in and sent to your CTP insurer as early as possible, but must be no later than six months from the date of your accident. HOWEVER, out of time claims may be made. New NSW CTP laws have made it difficult for injured people and many law firms still do not understand how to run new claims under these laws – so call us at PK Simpson Sydney as soon as possible.
  • Workers compensation claims – You should contact a lawyer within six months of the accident. But remember, out of time claims can be handled by PK Simpson Sydney. We can help you get the treatment required to build your claim.
  • Slip ‘n’ fall/occupiers liability claims – Your claim must be lodged usually within three years of the date of your accident.

Medical Negligence – within three years of the date of when the cause of action was discoverable to our client OR 12 years from the time of the act or omission which caused the injury through negligence.

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