If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, chances are you have made a workers compensation claim through Workcover, Queensland’s largest workplace injury insurer.
At the end your rehabilitation, the claim is usually closed by Workcover sending you to a doctor for an independent medical examination (IME) and then issuing you with a Notice of Assessment. The notice quantifies your injury with a score from 0-100%.
This score is your assessed Degree of Permanent Impairment and if your injury is determined to be 1% or higher, the notice will also include a lump sum offer of compensation. The lump sum offers are almost always much lower than what you would be entitled to if you made a common law claim for damages instead (however not everyone is entitled to make a common law claim). So never accept the lump sum offer in your Notice of Assessment without talking to a lawyer first – most injury lawyers will discuss this with you for free.
What happens if your Notice of Assessment lists your Degree of Permanent Impairment to be 0%?
If your independent medical examination and subsequent Notice of Assessment quantifies the impairment from your injury to be 0% (no impairment), you aren’t entitled to a lump sum offer of compensation from Workcover. However you might still be entitled to make a common law claim for damages against your employer.
Just because your injury was assessed as part of the Workcover process as 0% does not mean you don’t have a real or serious injury entitling you to serious damages (money). It is entirely possible to successfully sue for hundreds of thousands of dollars after being issued a Notice of Assessment with a degree of permanent impairment score of 0%.
If you choose to pursue a common law claim, you are entitled to get re-assessed by an expert doctor of your choosing. A good personal injury lawyer would be able to make recommendations on which doctor you ought to see for a more reasonable opinion. We frequently schedule reassessments which can result in an additional 5-10%.
What is a common law claim?
A common law claim is a more formal claim process which can be made by injured workers (after completing the workers compensation rehabilitation process) when their injuries were caused by an unsafe workplace environment or the negligence of their employer. The claim is made against the injured worker’s employer directly.
Commencing a common law claim for damages enables you to obtain your own medical evidence and personal injury lawyers can recommend doctors to you for further assessment who may assess your injuries more fairly and in more detail to support your claim.
You have 6 months from the date of receiving your Notice of Assessment to commence a common law claim so seeking legal representation urgently is a smart idea. If you haven’t received a Notice of Assessment, it is also worth considering legal representation to ensure you that you will receive one as Notices of Assessment aren’t always issued by the workers compensation insurer.