Effective 1 April 2009, significant changes to the way a
worker's entitlements to lump sum compensation for permanent
disability are assessed, took effect.
Previously a worker's injured body part was assessed in
accordance with the Third Schedule of the Workers Rehabilitation
and Compensation Act with a formula then being used to calculate an
entitlement to compensation. That assessment was made by either an
independent doctor or a treating doctor.
Since the changes, assessments of permanent disability are now
only able to be made by Accredited Assessors who have been trained
under the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment,
Fifth Edition. Furthermore, the assessments that they make are now
of "whole person impairment" (WPI). A threshold has been
introduced meaning that a worker now needs to be assessed as having
a 5% or greater WPI in order to qualify for compensation. Whilst
the maximum compensation payable has increased to $400,000.00, an
injured worker must be left with a 70% whole person impairment in
order to qualify for that amount.
A No Disadvantage Test has also been introduced, whereby if a
worker suffers a total loss of a particular body part and is
assessed to receive less compensation under the new legislation
than they would under the old legislation, then the worker should
not be disadvantaged and should receive a further set amount of
compensation. As very few workers suffer a total loss of an injured
body part the Test is unlikely to be widely accessible.
The changes to lump sum compensation legislation make it
imperative that injured workers seek legal advice in relation to
their rights and entitlements.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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