Skip to main content

WICA versus common law

Employees injured at work can either claim under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) or common law, but not both. There are key differences between the two approaches as well as deadlines for making and withdrawing claims. 

Differences between WICA and common law

If you are an eligible employee who has suffered a work-related injury or illness, you can seek compensation through either the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) or common law, but not both.

The main differences between making a WICA claim and filing a civil suit under common law are as follows:

Question WICA Common law
Who do I make the claim with?

Make your claim with MOM.

Your claim will be decided by Assistant Commissioners (Work Injury) from MOM.

Make your claim with either the States Court or the High Court.

Your claim will be decided by the judges from the court.

Do I need a lawyer?

No.

It is optional to engage a lawyer as you do not need one to complete the claim process.

MOM will guide you through the process.

However, such guidance and information are not intended as legal advice.

Yes.

You need a lawyer and have to pay their legal fees.

How much compensation will I get? Amount of compensation is based on a formula and has set limits. No limits on compensation amount, but you need to prove damages before the court.
Do I need proof to support my claims?

You need to prove that the injury or disease was due to work.

You don’t need to prove fault or negligence on anyone’s part.

You need to prove that your employer or a third party was at fault.
Can I claim under both WICA and Common Law?

No.

If you make a claim under WICA, you cannot make a claim for the same injury under common law.

No.

If you make a claim under common law to court, you cannot make a claim under WICA for the same injury.

Deadlines for withdrawing a claim or suit

You have up to 1 year from the accident to decide whether you want to make a claim under WICA or under common law.

Withdrawing a civil suit to file a WICA claim

If you are pursuing a civil suit against your employer and want to withdraw it to file a WICA claim, you need to make your claim within 1 year from the date of the accident or diagnosis of illness.

Withdrawing a WICA claim to file a civil suit

If you want to withdraw your WICA claim, you can do so at any time before MOM issues your notice of assessment (NOA).

Only you, or your legal representative, can notify MOM of the decision to withdraw a claim.

Once the notice of assessment has been issued, you can withdraw your claim:

  • Within 14 days from the date of service on the NOA, if there are no disputes.
  • Within 28 days from the date of service on the NOA, if there are disputes.
If all parties accept the NOA, your employer (or the insurer, if applicable) is required to make payment within 21 days from the date of service of NOA. The case is then considered resolved, and you will no longer be able to claim under common law.