For some people, receiving a weekly payment from Workcover following an workplace injury is enough to tide them over until they have fully recovered and returned to work. In this case, Workcover will stop paying a weekly benefit and close the claim – balance is restored – everybody is happy.
But what if despite returning to work, you haven’t “fully” recovered?
Or what if you had to find a new job that is different and less physical than your old one?
If either of the above two scenarios applies to you, you are actually entitled to be assessed by a doctor to determine if your work-related injuries have left you with a degree of permanent impairment (DPI) which is expressed as a percentage.
Pursuant to Section 178 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003, all injured workers who have an accepted application for compensation are entitled to request an independent medical assessment from WorkCover to decide if they have sustained a permanent impairment from the accepted work-related injury/ies.
An assessment of permanent impairment can only occur once all reasonable treatment and rehabilitation has been provided for the work-related injury and is medically deemed at maximum medical improvement. Should you be assessed to have sustained a permanent impairment from the injury, you may be entitled to an offer of payment of lump sum compensation for the permanent impairment.
For example, if you have an ankle injury you may be assessed to have 7% DPI. This assessment is in the form of a simple letter from Workcover and is called a ‘Notice of Assessment‘. In the letter, along with your assessed % of impairment, you will be given a lump sum offer of compensation.
However, Workcover do not always advise you of your right to be assessed and you may have to request this. We always recommend that this request, whilst very simple, gets made by a lawyer on your behalf. This way, Workcover get put on notice that the assessment must take place instead of telling you that ‘the claim is already closed’ which is known to happen.
Once you have completed your assessment and have been provided your Notice of Assessment, our advice is to never accept the offer no matter how good it looks (but chances are it won’t look very good at all) unless you have had legal advice first. By accepting this offer, you effectively agree to not pursue a greater amount of damages in a negligence claim against your employer (often referred to as a ‘common law claim’). This could mean the difference of $100,000’s in your pocket.
If you have been assessed by Workcover and received a Notice of Assessment with a lump sum compensation offer, call our office for a free, no obligation assessment of your circumstances.
If you have not been assessed by Workcover for a degree of permanent impairment (DPI), contact us without delay to find out your entitlements as time limits apply.