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I’ve been injured at work, what is a lump sum compensation claim and how can I make one? – A guide for Tasmanian workers

I’ve been injured at work, what is a lump sum compensation claim and how can I make one? – A guide for Tasmanian workers

Published on November 29, 2023 by Lucinda GunningLucinda Gunning

When you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help you recover and regain your quality of life. In Tasmania the compensation process involves several factors, one of which is determining your level of ‘whole person impairment’ (WPI) to determine your entitlement to make a lump sum compensation claim. This article aims to provide you an overview of what WPI means in the context of you being able to make a lump sum workers’ compensation claim in Tasmania.

What is whole person impairment (WPI)?

Tasmania’s workers’ compensation legislation, is primarily governed by the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Tas) (the Act).

Under the legislation, WPI refers to the permanent loss or damage to your physical or mental function resulting from your work-related injury or illness. Impairment is described as being a deviation from normal in a body part or organ system and its functioning. Impairment is assessed in terms of its effect on the overall person – the whole person.

What is a whole person impairment payment? And why is it so important?

A whole person impairment payment is a lump sum payment to compensate you for the overall effect your work injury or illness has had on your life. This lump sum payout is in addition to any weekly payments, medical and related expenses that you may receive.

How is whole person impairment assessed?

In Tasmania the assessment of whole person impairment is a medical issue and involves the alteration of your health status as a consequence of your injury. The assessment of your WPI is conducted according to the guidelines outlined in the Tasmanian Workers’ Compensation Guidelines for the Assessment of Permanent Impairment under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (the WorkCover Guidelines). The WorkCover Guidelines provide detailed criteria for assessing impairments resulting from various body systems, such as the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems, among others. It covers both physical and psychological impairments.

The assessment of WPI must be carried out by an accredited medical practitioner that is trained as an assessor of permanent impairment.  The accredited medical practitioner evaluates your condition, reviews medical records, and conducts a medical examination to determine the extent of the permanent impairment. They then assign a percentage value to the WPI based on the WorkCover Guidelines, reflecting the degree of impairment suffered by you as the worker.

To undergo assessment, your injury must have to be considered as permanent. This means that it must be static, well-stabilised and unlikely to substantially change in the future months regardless of any treatment you may undertake.

Why should I make a claim for whole person impairment?

It is important to pursue a permanent impairment lump sum claim if you qualify. The calculation of WPI plays a crucial role in determining the compensation benefits you as an injured worker are entitled to receive. Once your level of WPI has been determined the amount of compensation you receive is calculated in accordance with the formulas set out in section 71 of the Act.

In Tasmania, to be entitled to lump sum compensation you as a worker must meet certain thresholds, which include:

i. for the loss of part, or all, of a finger or toe there is no threshold;

ii. for any other permanent physical impairment, a 5% WPI threshold applies;

iii. for permanent psychological impairment, a threshold of 10% WPI applies;

iv. for industrial deafness claims, there is a threshold of 5% binaural hearing loss, suffered since 16 August 1995 that applies.

If you suffer a WPI of 20% or higher for an injury that occurred on or after 1 July 2010 you may be entitled to pursue a claim in common law damages. Strict time limits apply so it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

If you receive a whole person impairment lump sum payout, it doesn’t mean an end to any weekly benefits you’re entitled to, and these payments will continue as long as you qualify for them.

How do I make a lump sum claim?

Navigating the claims process for lump sum claims can be complex. You can reach out to one of our specialist personal injury lawyers for assistance with your claim by clicking here.

What happens if my claim is disputed?

Once your claim is made, your employer may dispute the degree of your WPI. In these circumstances your matter can be referred to the Tasmanian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT) to determine the dispute. TASCAT will refer your claim to a medical panel to resolve your dispute. The determination of a medical panel about a medical question, that is, the extent of your WPI is then binding on both parties. It is important to obtain legal advice if your claim is disputed as a lawyer will assist you to navigate the path forward.

You can contact us at Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers on 1800 059 278 or via our Contact Page if you have been injured in a workplace accident and one of our lawyers will assist you. You can also complete our Personal Injury Claim Check here.

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