Compensation Law

Winning compensation law cases in your local community since 1987

Have you or a family member been injured at work or in a car accident, or suffering as a result of medical negligence? The lawyers at Whitelaw McDonald understand that accidents can impact significantly on the family dynamic, causing economic pain as well as stress from the injury itself. We are here to support you navigate through the complex world of compensation law. Our Law Society Accredited Specialists will provide expert legal advice across a wide range of areas to help you get the compensation you are entitled to. If you would like to talk to us about your situation in any of the below areas, call us on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Coal Mining

Coal Mining

If you are injured at work in a coal mine, it can be physically and psychologically distressing, and you may be entitled to compensation. We have the expertise to help you if you have been injured while working underground, in a pit top or an open cut mine. We know coal miners work in a particularly risky and harsh environment.

Having worked with miners for over 40 years we have the knowledge to understand the circumstances of an accident and to determine the best way forward to ensure maximum compensation.

Your rights in the mining industry
Employee rights in the mining industry in the case of an accident usually fall into 2 types of claim:

Category 1 – Workers Compensation

You may be entitled to workers compensation through the coal miners insurance scheme in NSW if you suffer an injury at work or on the way to or from work:

  • weekly payments of compensation usually to 1 year after you are eligible for the  Aged Pension. In some cases you are entitled to this for the rest of your life
  • medical and treatment expenses for the rest of your life
  • lump sum payments for loss of use or of efficient use of body parts. You may be entitled to more than one claim if the injury becomes worse
  • lump sum payments for pain and suffering. You may be entitled to more than one claim if this increases over time. 

Category 2 – Common law claims

In the case your employer was negligent, you may be able to sue for damages through a common law claim. You may be entitled to lump sum damages for past and future wage loss, past and future medical treatment expenses, loss of superannuation and part and future care, yard and household assistance.

We work closely with mining engineers to make sure we get the best outcome for you.

Reach out to our experts in coal mining cases today on on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or via our enquiry form. In a free no-obligation consultation we will assess your case and work to get you the best possible outcome.

Workers Compensation

Workers Compensation

If you are injured while working, we are here to take the stress out of navigating this complex area of law, and get you the compensation you deserve. It is important you understand your rights and know what entitlements are available for you to pursue.

If you are employed in New South Wales, you may be able to make a claim for compensation from injuries which may have occurred:

  • while working
  • during any travel you do for your employment
  • during a work break.

If you are employed in the New South Wales Police Force, New South Wales Fire Brigade, New South Wales Ambulance as a Paramedic, are a volunteer with any government agency or work in the coal mining industry you may be able to claim for compensation if you suffer an injury occurring:

  • while working
  • on your way to work
  • on your way home from work
  • during any travel you do for your employment
  • during a work break.

If you work in the public sector, in the Armed Forces or a government-owned company like Australia Post, you may be eligible to claim for compensation under the Comcare scheme. 

In all of the above scenarios, you may be able to claim for:

  • medical and related expenses
  • lump sums for permanent impairment
  • vocational rehabilitation and retraining
  • home care and domestic assistance in some circumstances.

Injuries caused can be physical or psychiatric, and also can include diseases like skin cancer from sun exposure at work, occupational dermatitis and industrial deafness from noise. As the different schemes provide for different benefits and procedures it is important that you get the right advice to navigate through a complex workers compensation system.

If you have been injured at work and would like to understand if you may have a claim, speak to our experts today (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.



It’s critical to talk to us straight away if you’re suffering from an asbestos related disease or think you’ve had exposure to asbestos. Our expert team will guide you through investigating exposure and build your case, so you can focus on feeling well. 

Asbestos was used extensively in many industrial environments until the mid-80s, and people were exposed to it in construction, mining, shipping and dockyards and power plants. It appeared ideal for use in pipe and boiler insulation, fireproofing material, cement, brake linings and in building panels.

You may also have been exposed to asbestos in some other way, for example, washing dusty overalls, as a child playing in the backyard containing crushed asbestos, or in a school or hospital building during renovations.

When asbestos fibres are breathed in the fibres can get trapped in the lungs and stay there for a long time, resulting in scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems. 

You may be entitled to claim if you are suffering from:

  • mesothelioma – cancer of the lining of the lung or abdomen lining 
  • asbestosis – lung scarring or fibrosis
  • asbestos lung cancer
  • pleural thickening and plaques – scarring around lung or lung lining.

To discuss any concerns you have around asbestos and the impact it has had on your health, call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Car Accidents

Car Accidents

If you have suffered injury as a result of a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation to get back on your feet.

You may be in the car, a cyclist, a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle, bus driver, taxi driver or someone injured on public transport.

Under the motor accidents legislation you have important obligations that you must comply with that are time sensitive. You are required to report the accident to the police within 28 days if the police did not attend the scene, and you must notify the relevant insurer preferably within 28 days of the accident, but definitely within 3 months.

Everyone, regardless of who is at fault, is entitled to recover some statutory benefits under legislation, which includes weekly payments if you are unable to work and medical expenses. Those benefits are payable for the first 52 weeks or 1 year.

If you are either not at fault, or have not contributed to the accident by more than 61 per cent and have an injury that is more than a minor injury, then you are entitled to continue to recover weekly payments beyond 52 weeks and entitled to medical expenses for life.

Our expert team of lawyers can work through this difficult legislation with you and advise you as to any claim for negligence against the driver at fault.

There are strict time constraints applying to this type of claim, so make sure you get in touch as soon as possible and we will guide you through the process, so you can concentrate on feeling well. Get in touch with us today to discuss your motor vehicle accident, on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast).

Dust Disease

Dust Disease

If you are suffering a respiratory disease as a result of dust and fumes at work, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us today so we can take care of what you are entitled to and you can focus on feeling your best. 

There are many types of respiratory disease including:

  • pneumoconiosis – also known as black lung disease, caused by inhaling coal dust, typically in coal mining.
  • silicosis – caused by inhaling silica dust (or chrystalline silica) from sand and rock, primarily in mines, quarries, and in occupations such as sandblasting.
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/chronic obstructive airways disease (known as COPD/COAD) – includes chronic bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. 
  • byssinosis – also known as brown lung disease, caused by exposure to cotton dust, or other vegetable fiber dusts like flax, hemp or sisal. Commonly occurs in those who work in cotton mills, yarn and fabric manufacturing industries.

If you are diagnosed with a dust disease, you may be entitled to compensation under:

  • workers’ compensation schemes
  • common law, if you lodge a claim within 3 years of diagnosis
  • superannuation
  • insurance policies
  • product liability claims.

If you think your health has been impacted by any sort of dust disease, we have the expert knowledge to work with you to get the compensation you are entitled to. Get in touch today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Medical Negligence

Medical Negligence

No one is perfect and despite the high standard of medical and nursing care in New South Wales, accidents can happen and things can be missed. Errors in medical procedures and diagnosis can occur from even the most qualified and experience medical practitioners. Some of those errors may include:

  • misdiagnosis or diagnosis delay
  • surgical errors
  • injuries sustained during birth, including stillbirths and neonatal deaths
  • dental malpractice
  • failure to refer for investigations, specialist advice or emergency treatment
  • defective medical products
  • anesthesia errors
  • prescription and medication errors.

Claims for medical negligence are very complex and difficult cases. To run a successful claim requires special expertise in the field. Our Accredited Specialists at Whitelaw McDonald have the experience to advise you on your situation to get the best outcome for you. Call us today on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Personal Injury and Public Liability

Personal Injury & Public Liability

If you have been injured in a public or private place, such as a shopping centre or someone’s home, you may be entitled to compensation under public liability law. This will often be due to a failure by someone to make the premises safe. These claims can be tricky to navigate, which is why you need the best expertise – call us so we can help you claim what you are entitled to and move forward. Generally there are strict time limits on when the claim can be made, so get in touch today.

Claims may include:

  • injuries sustained in public places such as parks, supermarkets and shopping centres
  • injuries sustained at private locations such as homes and reception lounges
  • dog or other animal attacks.

You may be entitled to compensation for:

  • pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life caused by physical injury, psychological injury or both 
  • loss of past and future earnings 
  • past and future medical treatment and care expenses 
  • past and future costs related to voluntary care from a loved one (for example, a family member taking care of you)
  • past and future damages for loss of capacity to care for dependents.

If you are suffering what you think might be Total Permanent Disability due to injury, call now and speak to our experts in personal injury law on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Police Officers

Police Officers

If you or a family member is a police officer in New South Wales, we are the right people to help you with your unique legal needs. Your job is risky by nature, and you may often find yourself in situations which can result in injury.

These workplace injuries may include:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • injuries related to being assaulted
  • car accidents while working.

If you are injured at work as a police officer, or can no longer attend work due to a psychological condition, you need to report your injury to your employer immediately. You will also need to see your doctor and obtain the necessary medical certificate in the correct form as per the guidelines issued by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).

Get in touch today so we can take the stress out of managing the legal process and you can focus on recovery. Call on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or Contact Us for an obligation-free consultation.

Institutional Abuse

Institutional Abuse

Institutional abuse involves cases that involve, for the most part, minors who were abused either physically, sexually or psychologically by those in authority. Abuse can occur at school, at church, in foster care or juvenile detention and you may have a right to compensation. Even if it happened a long time ago and was never reported, you may still be able to claim compensation and seek justice for any harm endured.  

Understanding Personal Injury Claims 

Survivors have the right to seek compensation for physical injuries, emotional distress, and other forms of harm inflicted upon them while under the care of an institution. These claims may vary depending on the nature and extent of the abuse. That claim can include compensation for pain and suffering (and possibly including aggravated damages), past and future loss of income, past and future medical expenses. Compensation will be payable either by the person who inflicted the abuse, or the institution who employed the offender. While money will not repair any physical and psychological damage caused by years of abuse, it can assist with medical treatment costs and living costs for those who struggle to maintain full-time employment. 

In child sexual abuse matters aggravated damages may also be awarded for the hurt and humiliation of the abuse.  Where the behaviour of the offender after the abuse has occurred has been such to cause increased mental harm, such as denial of liability in clear cut cases, aggravated damages may be appropriate. 

To date, damages were not able to be claimed by family members of abuse victims, however in 2024, the High Court made a decision that allowed for the father of his now-deceased son to pursue damages for the shock he suffered when he learnt of the sexual abuse of his son in the mid 1990s.

In New South Wales, there is a statute of limitations that sets a time limit for filing personal injury claims. However, due to the sensitive nature of institutional abuse cases, the legal system recognises the delayed reporting often associated with such traumatic experiences. Recent changes in legislation have extended the timeframe for survivors to bring forth claims, acknowledging the challenges in coming forward sooner. There is no limitation to bring the claim if the abuse suffered happenned to a child while under age. 

While it may be painful, you will be required to document the abuse you suffered and gather any evidence that may support your case, like medical records, photographs and witnesses to your claims.   

Seek legal advice from our specialised lawyers who will handle your case with sensitivity. It is not an easy thing. We will explain your rights, assess how likely your claim may be to succeed and outline any potential outcomes. Contact us now for a free no-obligation consultation on (02) 4941 8999 (Newcastle) or (02) 4343 7000 (Central Coast) or via our enquiry form. Time limits may apply in matters other than sexual abuse so you should find out your legal rights as early as possible.