At the end of your workers' compensation claim, Workcover Queensland or the self-insurer may issue you with a Notice of Assessment. This document will set out your work injuries and accord a percentage impairment for each injury. If your impairment for an injury is rated at more than 0%, then you will be accorded a correlating monetary amount being the statutory compensation amount for the injury. The statutory compensation accorded to each injury is taken from tables of injuries and calculations stipulated in the Workers' Compensation & Rehabilitation Act 2003 and associated Regulations. These amounts for each injury will be added up and totalled in the Notice and you will be given what is termed a Statutory Lump Sum Offer for that total amount. Note however that the statutory compensation amounts for physical injuries will not be added together with those for any psychiatric injuries listed in your Notice of Assessment. This are totalled separately.
Your Notice of Assessment will also stipulate the total permanent impairment for your injuries (what we call your Work Related Impairment ("WRI"), or for injuries occurring after 15 October 2013, the Degree of Permanent Impairment (“DPI”)). If your total WRI or DPI is equal to or more than 20% then you can take the Statutory Lump Sum Offer contained in your Notice of Assessment and you can still bring a Common Law Claim for damages for your work injuries.
However, if your total WRI/DPI is less than 20%, then you cannot take the Statutory Lump Sum Offer and pursue a Common Law Claim - you have to make a choice as to what you wish to do, that is, take the Lump Sum Offer or sue for damages. If you take the Lump Sum Offer, then you lose any right to seek damages for your injuries. You will only retain this right if you reject or defer the Lump Sum Offer. The decision to take the offer, once made, is irrevocable and cannot be reversed.
You should also be aware that if you have both physical and psychiatric injuries listed in your Notice of Assessment, the WRI/DPI for these injuries are not added together when calculating the total WRI/DPI. They are taken separately. For example, if you receive a total 10% WRI/DPI for your physical injuries and a 10% WRI/DPI for your psychiatric injury, this does not mean you have a 20% WRI/DPI and you can take the offer and still sue. You cannot. You can either take the offers made or sue, but you cannot do both.
In the case where you receive a Notice of Assessment stating that your total WRI/DPI for your physical injuries is 10% and your WRI/DPI for your psychiatric injuries is 20% or more, then you cannot take the offer for your physical injuries and still sue for those injuries, but you can take the offer for your psychiatric injuries and still sue for your psychiatric injuries. So if you wished to pursue a law suit against your employer for all your injuries, you would need to reject the offer for your physical injuries and you could accept the offer for your psychiatric injuries and still sue for all your injuries. And the vice versa is true in the case where your physical injuries total a WRI/DPI of 20% or more but your psychiatric injuries only total a DPI/WRI of 10%, then you can take the offer for your physical injuries and still sue, but you cannot take the offer for your psychiatric injuries and sue for your psychiatric injuries. To bring a Common Law Claim for all your injuries you would need to reject the offer for your psychiatric injuries and you could accept the offer for your physical injuries. And in the case where you receive 20% or more for both your physical injuries and your psychiatric injuries, then you can accept both and still bring a Common Law claim for all your injuries.
Recent legislative changes in Queensland have also introduced further restrictions to bringing a Common Law Claim for Damages for your work injury. For any work injury occurring during the period commencing from 15 October 2013 to 30 January 2015, a worker must achieve a DPI of 6% for their physical or psychological/psychiatric injury sustained at work. Once again, the DPI for the physical injury and any psychological injury occurring from a work event cannot be added together to achieve this 6% DPI threshold. For information as to what steps you must take if you do not achieve a WRI/DPI of 6% and wish to pursue a Common Law Claim, go to the FAQ at the following link : Review of Degree of Permanent Impairment
If you have received a Notice of Assessment from the workers’ compensation insurer at the end of your workers’ compensation claim, you should take no action in response without seeking legal advice first. You should contact The Personal Injury Lawyers on 1300 782 202 as soon as possible for advice as to whether you have a Common Law Claim worth pursuing. Alternatively, you can submit a claim enquiry form and we will contact you. The Personal Injury Lawyers is a No Win No Fee personal injury firm that specialises in all personal injury claims. We are available to assist you 24/7 and we will be able to provide you with a free assessment of your case instantly - there is no waiting to find out. You will know straight away from one of our personal injury experts whether or not you have a claim worthwhile pursuing and your consultation is FREE, totally confidential and there is no obligation.
It is important that you remember, Strict time limits to bringing work injury claims in Queensland.