How to avoid having weekly benefits stopped at the end of 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

It is estimated that some 8,000 injured workers will be notified this year that their weekly benefits will cease at the end of 2017.

Because of the amendments to the Workers Compensation Legislation in 2012, Section 39 of the Workers Compensation Act states that injured workers who have been receiving weekly benefits since 1 October 2012 must have an assessment of greater than 20% whole person impairment to continue receiving weekly payments after the end of 2017.

If you have not yet had an assessment of whole person impairment, then you will shortly be contacted by the insurer who will be arranging an appointment for you to consult their doctor for an assessment of whole person impairment.

That assessment is the insurers' opinion and you do not need to accept such an assessment. You are entitled to obtain your own assessment from a doctor of your choosing.

To obtain your own assessment, you need to contact a Lawyer who will obtain funding from the WorkCover Independent Review Officer (WIRO). Your lawyer can then arrange for you to have your own medical examination to have your own assessment of whole person impairment.

If there is a disagreement between your own assessment and that of the insurer you are entitled to be referred to the Workers Compensation Commission who will appoint an independent medical assessor to assess the degree of whole person impairment. That independent medical assessors' assessment of the whole person impairment is final and binding.

If that assessment is 20% or less, then weekly payments will stop as at the end of 2017 and you will be entitled to receive payment for medical expenses for a further 2 years only.

If, however your assessment of whole person impairment is 20% or greater, then you are entitled to continue to receive weekly benefits of compensation until retirement age (age 67 in most cases). This entitlement is subject to the provisions of Section 38 of the Workers Compensation Act which states that an injured worker is only entitled to receive weekly benefits after 2.5 years if they satisfy either of the following: -

  1. They are certified totally unfit for work or;
  2. If they are certified fit for suitable duties, they are working at least 15 hours per week.

Alternatively, if your assessment of whole person impairment is 15% or greater, you are entitled to investigate whether you have a right to make a claim for Work Injury Damages against your employer. A claim for Work Injury Damages is essentially bringing a claim in negligence against your employer because of a breach of duty of care by your employer. To bring such a claim you need to demonstrate that it was your employers “fault” that you sustained injury.

If you have a whole person impairment of 15% or greater, you should contact an accredited specialist in personal injury law to determine if you have a right to make a claim for Work Injury Damages. Such a claim entitles you to claim a large lump sum amount in compensation for your loss of past and future income. These claims can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and it is certainly worthwhile seeking the opinion of an accredited specialist.

It should also be kept in mind that you only have one chance to obtain an assessment of whole person impairment and this needs to be done at a time when your condition is stable and not likely to get worse.

If you have not yet obtained an assessment of whole person impairment, you should seek the advice of an accredited specialist in personal injury law immediately.

Should you wish to discuss the above please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Garling on (02) 8518 1120 or email Matthew at mgarling@garlingandco.com.au.

 

GARLING & CO LAWYERS 2017

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