Permanent Impairment Compensation Claims

WorkCover Queensland is a government-owned statutory body. Its role is to provide workers’ compensation insurance to Queensland employers. It is a must for all Queensland employers to have a workers’ compensation accident insurance policy.

If you are an employee in Queensland, you are covered by your employers’ workers’ compensation insurance policy. When you suffer an injury at work, WorkCover Queensland will offer you a lump sum payment.

You can either reject or accept the lump sum offer. But once you accept the offer, it’s final. It is, therefore, important to seek legal advice from personal injury lawyers before you make up your mind. You may have to pay legal fees, but seeking legal advice will be worth it.

We're going to delve into everything you should know about permanent impairment payout amounts QLD. So, let's get started.

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What is a "Permanent Impairment"?

Work-related injuries are not uncommon in today's world. Even with the best and most effective workplace safety systems, physical and psychological injuries can still happen. Unsafe work environments are a major significant contributing factor to work-related injuries.

Luckily, with good legal advice from trusted personal injury lawyers, injured workers can receive statutory compensation. An important entity in these claims is WorkCover Queensland. This is a workers' compensation insurer that covers accident insurance for any work-related physical injury in Queensland.

WorkCover Queensland will only give you a lump sum offer of compensation if you have suffered permanent impairment. But what exactly is it?

It's a term used to describe the permanent effect that an injury has on an individual. Simply put, it is an injury that isn't expected to improve any further with treatment and rehabilitation. This kind of injury causes:

  • Loss of the effective use of a body part
  • The complete loss of a body part
  • Psychological incapacity

Some examples include spinal cord injury, amputation, disfigurement, severe mental disorder, permanent loss of hearing, or permanent loss of movement. As part of bringing a workers' compensation claim in Queensland, you'll have to be assessed.

WorkCover Queensland will arrange for an independent medical practitioner to review your condition to determine the degree of permanent impairment.

If the medical practitioner believes your injury is stable and stationary (in other words, you've reached medical improvement), they will give you a degree of permanent impairment (DPI).

The DPI is usually expressed as a percentage to calculate offers of lump-sum compensation. WorkCover Queensland will only offer you a lump sum payment if your DPI is higher than 0%. Seeking legal advice at this stage of the settlement process is crucial.

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How do Lump Sum Compensation Payments Work?

Lump sum payments from WorkCover Queensland are available to workers who request an assessment for permanent impairment. This impairment had to have been as a result of their work. You can accept, reject, or defer the lump sum offer.

If you elect not to accept the lump sum offer or have a DPI higher than 20%, you may be entitled to a claim for common law damages. Before making decision, it is important that you consider obtaining legal advice to ensure that your rights are protected.

So, what is the significance of a common law claim? It involves a claim for any losses you are likely to suffer into the future as a result of your injuries as well as any additional losses you have suffered that have not been compensated by WorkCover Queensland following your injury. In our experience, most common law claims can be resolved within six to twelve months of an assessment for permanent impairment.

However, since you only get one opportunity to recover damages for your common law claim, it's important to obtain the legal advice from experienced lawyers as early as possible.

Assessment of Permanent Impairment

A medical expert will determine your DPI after you seek medical treatment and your condition has stabilised. After this, you'll receive a document called a "Notice of Assessment" from WorkCover Queensland, which will give you an offer of a lump sum payment as compensation for your injuries.

This is usually based on a calculation just of your DPI, and is generally smaller than a common law claim for damages. If your DPI is 20% or more, you are entitled to receive lump sum compensation and pursue a common law claim for damages.

However, if your DPI is below 20%, you have to make a choice that can’t be reversed. You must decide to either accept the lump sum offer or pursue a common law claim for damages.

In seeking common law damages you can also recover the following:

  • damages for the injury, including for any pain and suffering you have experienced
  • loss of past and future income
  • superannuation benefits
  • pocket expenses incurred due to the injury
  • future expenses likely to be incurred due to the injury
  • interest on damages

Am I Eligible to Make a Permanent Impairment Claim?

In Queensland, any worker injured in the line of work is entitled to one assessment of their DPI. Common law damages legislation provides that:

  • Only one assessment can be made to determine the DPI
  • Also, for permanent compensation, you’re limited to only one claim resulting from the injury

There are some exceptions, however. First, workers who made a claim for lump sum compensation before 19 June 2012 are eligible for one more deterioration claim and to receive an additional assessment of their degree of permanent impairment.

Second, if you are an existing recipient of payments made weekly, i.e., if you were a recipient of the payment before 1 October 2012, you are eligible for a further assessment under transitional provisions in the Workers Compensation Regulation of 2016.

How to Assess the Degree of Permanent Impairment?

If you would like to bring a workplace injury claim in Queensland, you have to be clinically assessed to determine the degree of permanent impairment. As we have already mentioned, this is called a permanent impairment assessment, and you receive a Notice of Assessment afterward.

The assessment is a medical decision that's made by an independent physician or a medical assessment tribunal. It's usually expressed as a percentage to calculate the offers of lump-sum compensation.

Expert legal help at this stage of the settlement process is imperative. Make sure you have legal counsel before this assessment. This will ensure the full scope and scale of your injuries are recognised. It will also ensure your case has the best chance to achieve the maximum amount of compensation payable.

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How Long Does a Workers' Compensation Claim Last?

A work injury damages claim is a complete and final settlement of your statutory claim under the Workers Compensation Act.

How long you receive statutory compensation from WorkCover Qld depends on the severity of your injury and the type of claim you make, whether a statutory claim or common law claim.

Wounded workers who make a statutory claim have a right to a weekly payment from WorkCover Queensland. This is for the period of time when they're unable to work because of their injuries. This payment is compensation for future economic loss.

Under section 144A of the Workers Compensation Act 2003 (Qld), these payments will stop when:

  • The work-related injury stops.
  • The worker has been paid weekly payments for 5 years
  • The compensation reaches a maximum threshold

Under section 144B of the Act, a worker's entitlement to coverage of medical expenses will end when:

  • The entitlement of the worker to weekly payments stops.
  • Medical treatment for the injury is no longer required for its management because the injury is unlikely to improve with further treatment or hospitalization

There are other circumstances this entitlement to compensation will come to an end. This includes willful misconduct that led to injury, intentionally self-inflicted injury, and fraud.

How Does a Medical Assessment Tribunal Work?

If you disagree with a Notice of Assessment, the insurer may refer your injuries for assessment by a Medical Assessment Tribunal. The Worker's Compensation Regulator convenes the Medical Assessment Tribunal.  It is an independent statutory authority and independent of all self-insurers.

The Medical Assessment Tribunal consists of a panel of 3 specialist doctors. They are briefed with all relevant material on your compensation file.  If you disagree with the findings of the Notice of Assessment, they reassess your permanent impairment.

However, you cannot appeal the assessment of the Medical Assessment Tribunal. Therefore, the lump sum offer you receive will be equivalent to your permanent impairment percentage.

What if I Disagree With the Notice of Assessment?

Not everyone will agree with the results of the Notice of Assessment. If you don't agree with the percentage impairment suggested in the Notice, you have 20 business days to disagree with it and lodge a complaint.

After the end of this period, your disagreement with the terms will be null and void, and you'll receive the lump sum offer appropriate to your percentage impairment.

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Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim

If you suffer injuries whilst at work, and you are looking for further information in terms of making a claim. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer a free consultation for injured people looking to seek compensation. As mentioned before, we also have a "No Win. No Fee. No Catch." policy, which means you will never be out of pocket.

Get in touch with us today to give yourself the best opportunity to understand your rights.

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