Unfortunately, for some workers, they not only suffer a single injury at work but will sometimes develop a further injury as a result of that injury. These latter injuries, also known as a 'Secondary Injuries,' while not always sustained at work, can still entitle workers to compensation entitlements.
For a worker to be entitled to compensation for a secondary condition, the worker must prove the initial injury materially contributed to the development of the secondary condition. The relationship needs to be established between the first and second injury rather than its relationship with the workplace (unlike the test for an initial work-related injury).
Under the Workers Compensation Act (the Act), a worker who has developed a secondary condition is entitled to receive statutory benefits in the form of weekly compensation (wages) and medical treatment expenses. A worker should utilise the same claim number as the initial injury when making requests for statutory benefits for the secondary condition.
In respect to a claim for lump sum compensation for permanent impairment, if the secondary condition is psychological when the initial work-related injury was physical, the worker is not entitled to make a claim for lump sum compensation for permanent impairment (section 65A of the Act).
However, if the initial work-related injury was physical and the secondary also physical, the worker is entitled to combine the assessments of permanent impairment (using the Combined Values Tables) should there be a causal relationship between the two injuries and the employment.
If you have suffered a secondary injury and are having difficulties with your workers compensation insurer you should contact our experienced and friendly team of lawyers to learn how we can help you.
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.