Extra compensation for injured workers

You may be entitled to An additional lump sum compensation

If you were injured during the period 15 October 2013 and 30 January 2015, and you did not achieve a 6% Degree of Permanent Impairment (DPI) for your work injury (either for psychiatric injury or physical injuries), but you did receive a DPI of over 0%, then you may very well be entitled to additional lump sum compensation over and above the usual lump sum payment.

This special payment is only available to workers injured between the above dates who did not achieve sufficient DPI to pursue a Common Law claim due to the 6% threshold introduced by the Newman Government, and who otherwise would have had good grounds to pursue such a claim.

You may very well be entitled to a number of avenues of compensation as follows

More information about this additional lump sum payment that you may be entitled to if you are such a worker is set out below. Generally, if you suffer an injury in the course of your work, then you a good chance you are entitled to a number of avenues such as:

Workers’ Compensation

  • Anyone injured at work is entitled to workers’ compensation as a statutory right, unless they were acting outside their employment at the time of sustaining their injury. You will receive benefits for lost wages if you cannot work due to your injury, in addition to medical treatment and rehabilitation expenses. Your workers’ compensation claim will continue until such time as your work injuries are stable and stationary (when your doctors tell you that no further treatment can improve your injuries), and will then cease.

Lump Sum Statutory Compensation

  • If, when your work injury is stable and stationary, your injury is assessed as resulting in permanent impairment, you may very well be entitled to a lump sum compensation payment from the workers’ compensation insurer, which is usually WorkCover Queensland (some larger employers are self-insured for workers’ compensation).  This lump sum offer will be made to you in a document called a “Notice of Assessment”, which is issued following your injury assessment.

  • However, when you receive the Notice of Assessment, you have to be very careful as to whether you accept any lump sum compensation offered in that document, because what is called the “irrevocable election” most workers have to make when they receive a Notice of Assessment. The irrevocable election relates to whether or not you wish to pursue a Common Law damages claim for your work injuries.  A Common Law damages claim is where you sue your employer for damages for the injuries you have sustained in the work incident, including all the loss and damage you suffer as a result.  Common Law claims are often much more lucrative as they pay greater compensation.  The average Common Law claim payment in 2015 is around $200,000, compared to average lump sum compensation of around $9,000. However, not everyone has a Common Law claim. You only have a Common Law claim when your injury has been caused by some negligent act or omission of the employer.

  • If you are assessed as having a permanent impairment for your injury of less than 20%, you cannot take the lump sum compensation offer and still pursue your claim for Common Law Damages – you cannot do both. It is one or the other. If you take the lump sum offer in the Notice of Assessment, you cannot change your mind later and pursue a Common Law claim. The decision is final.  If, however you receive an impairment assessment of 20% or more, you do not have to make an election – you can take the lump sum offer and also sue for Common Law damages. We must note however that physical injuries and psychiatric injuries are treated separately, and impairments are not added together. If you get less than 20% for physical injuries but more than 20% for your psychiatric injury, you will still lose the right to sue if you take the lump sum offer for your physical injuries at less than 20%, and vice versa.

  • You have to be very careful in making a decision when you receive this lump sum offer, because if your injury is assessed at less than 20% and you make the wrong response, you can lose substantial compensation. If you take the offer and have a viable Common Law claim, you will have lost your right to pursue that claim which would mean the loss of significant compensation. However, if you reject the lump sum offer intending to pursue a Common Law claim, and it turns out you do not have a viable Common Law claim, then you have lost your lump sum compensation payment. It is therefore very important you see a lawyer when you receive your Notice of Assessment so that you do not respond to this document incorrectly and lose your right to pursue a Common Law claim and significant damages or your only viable compensation payment for your work injury.

Extra Lump Sum Compensation if impairment less than 6%

  • If your work injury happened during the period 15 October 2013 to 30 January 2015, then you have to be extra careful with how you deal with your lump sum offer. If you suffer a work injury during this period, you only have an entitlement to sue for Common Law damages if you achieve a degree of permanent impairment for your work injury of at least 6%. If you do not achieve this then you have no right at all to pursue a Common Law claim in relation to your work injury. All you have then by way of compensation for your injury at work is the lump sum compensation offer in your Notice of Assessment.

  • BUT, if it is the case that should you have met the threshold DPI of 6% you would have had a case against your employer for bringing a Common Law claim for damages (your employer was negligent in causing your injury), then you may very well be entitled to extra lump sum compensation under legislation introduced in an effort to try to help out those injured workers subject to the 6% rule. HOWEVER, if you take the lump sum offer made in the Notice of Assessment, before looking into whether you have an entitlement for any additional compensation under this legislation, then you will lose the right to this extra compensation.

  • So if you suffered your work injury during the period 15 October 2013 and 30 January 2015, and you receive a permanent impairment assessment in your Notice of Assessment of less than 6%, DEFINITELY DO NOT TAKE THE LUMP SUM OFFER IN THE NOTICE OF ASSESSMENT AS YOU MAY VERY WELL BE ENTITLED TO INCREASED LUMP SUM COMPENSATION WHICH WILL BE LOST TO YOU.

Common Law Damages Claim

  • As indicated above, this is a claim that is open to an injured worker if their work injury has resulted from the negligent act or omission of their employer. In such case, the injured worker can bring a lawsuit against the employer seeking to recover damages for all the loss and damage resulting from the work event, including such things as damages for pain and suffering, past and future rehabilitation and medical expenses, past and future care and assistance costs, past lost income, loss of future income and loss of past and future superannuation benefits.   Because all loss and damage arising from the work incident and resultant injury are covered in a Common Law claim, it is really the only avenue by which an injured worker is properly compensated for their work injuries.  As indicated above, for a minor injury at work, a worker may achieve say around $9,000 in lump sum compensation offered by the workers’ compensation insurer when the work injury is assessed. But if that worker brought a Common Law claim, then according to recent statistics, they would be likely to receive around $200,000 for their injury compensation.

  • As indicated above, Common Law claims are not available to everyone – you must be able to prove negligence against the employer to succeed on a Common Law claim, or to even have entitlement to bring such a claim. If your injury at work occurred within the period 15 October 2013 and 30 January 2015, you will also need to achieve a degree of permanent impairment for your injury at 6% or more to be able to pursue a Common Law claim.

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