Thousands hit by work injury ruling
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.