Thou­sands hit by work in­jury rul­ing

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - All copy pro­vided by Turner Free­man lawyers; turn­er­free­mannsw.com.au

THOU­SANDS of peo­ple who have suf­fered per­ma­nent in­juries at work will no longer be able to seek ad­di­tional lump sum com­pen­sa­tion pay­ments if their con­di­tion wors­ens over time, fol­low­ing a rul­ing of the NSW Court of Ap­peal.

The de­ci­sion, handed down late last month, has re­sulted in a sit­u­a­tion where once an in­jured worker has had their level of im­pair­ment as­sessed, they will ef­fec­tively be stuck with that fig­ure, re­gard­less of how se­ri­ously the in­jury de­te­ri­o­rates in the fu­ture.

Among the work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion changes passed by then premier Barry O’Far­rell in 2012 was a new pro­vi­sion lim­it­ing in­jured work­ers to mak­ing only one claim for lump sum com­pen­sa­tion.

For the past three years, the Work­ers Com­pen­sa­tion Com­mis­sion gen­er­ally in­ter­preted that change as only ap­ply­ing to peo­ple in­jured fol­low­ing the pass­ing of the new laws, ex­empt­ing work­ers with pre-ex­ist­ing claims.

That in­ter­pre­ta­tion has now been over­turned by the Court of Ap­peal.

In­jured worker ad­vo­cates have de­scribed this de­ci­sion as one of the most un­fair con­se­quences of the 2012 work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion change.

They have also urged the cur­rent NSW Gov­ern­ment to make ur­gent changes to the law to re­store the le­gal rights of peo­ple with work­place in­juries.

In­jured work­ers who set­tled lump sum com­pen­sa­tion claims be­fore 2012 were ad­vised that if their work-re­lated con­di­tion de­te­ri­o­rated, they would be able to make an ad­di­tional claim.

Un­for­tu­nately, the ret­ro­spec­tive na­ture of these changes means that for those work­ers this is no longer the case.

Had they known that this change would be made to the law, many would not have set­tled their lump sum com­pen­sa­tion claims.

Many of these work­ers agreed to set­tle­ments that were pro­moted by in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

Had they known fu­ture le­gal changes would pre­vent them from mak­ing ad­di­tional claims, many would not have agreed to these set­tle­ments.

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