If you have been injured at work and are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, eventually WorkCover or the self-insurer will stop paying those benefits and close your claim.
Up until this point, your wages and treatment have been covered by the ‘no fault’ statutory scheme. Once your injury becomes ‘stable and stationary’– which means that your injuries are unlikely to get any better or worse – your claim is closed and you are entitled to seek a Notice of Assessment from WorkCover or the self-insurer.
In order to obtain a Notice of Assessment, WorkCover or the self-insurer will arrange an appointment for you to attend on a doctor of their choice. The purpose of this appointment is for the doctor to assess whether you have sustained a permanent impairment as a result of the workplace accident. If you have sustained psychological injuries you may also be required to attend the Medical Assessment Tribunal, where a panel of three doctors will interview you and assess your injuries.
WHAT IS A NOTICE OF ASSESSMENT?
A Notice of Assessment is a document that sets out your injuries from the workplace accident and provides a percentage of permanent impairment or Work Related Impairment (WRI). It may contain a lump sum offer of money to finalise your claim. This lump sum offer is worked out on set calculations – it does not take into account your individual circumstances, such as how your injuries may affect you in the future and whether they will affect your ability to work and earn a living.
It is important that you do not accept the Notice of Assessment lump sum offer without seeking legal advice. This is because by signing the Notice of Assessment you may end your rights to make a claim for damages at common law.
At Brisbane Injury Lawyers, we can advise you to either:
a) Accept the WorkCover lump sum offer; or
b) Ignore the lump sum offer and proceed to a Common Law Claim.
WHAT IS A COMMON LAW CLAIM?
Provided that your injury arose out of the employer’s negligence, either in full or in part, you may be able to obtain a greater amount of compensation at common law. At Brisbane Injury Lawyers, we are able to assist you with determining whether you employer has been negligent by conducting investigations and considering all the circumstances of the accident as instructed by you. We can then advise you on your prospects of success with a Common Law Claim.
Common law damages include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life;
- Lost income, past and future;
- Loss of past and future superannuation contributions;
- Past and future medical and travelling expenses;
- Past and future paid care and assistance.
Even if you received a permanent impairment of 0% on your Notice of Assessment, this does not affect your rights at common law.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
If you decide to proceed with a Common Law Claim, we will prepare your Notice of Claim for Damages. This is a lengthy form which sets out the details of your claim and the allegations of negligence on which it is based. Once this form is signed by you, we then serve it on WorkCover or the self-insurer and the common law phase of your claim begins.
There is a 6-month timeframe allocated to conduct necessary investigations into liability. During this time, we will also arrange for you to attend on medical specialists for the purpose of obtaining medico-legal reports. These reports will assist us in assessing the quantum of your claim, that is, the amount of money you would expect to receive. WorkCover or the self-insurer may also arrange medico-legal appointments for you in order to obtain their own evidence as to the state of your injuries.
When these investigations have been conducted, we are then in a position to try and settle your matter. The majority of common law claims usually settle outside of court at a settlement conference which is best described as a meeting between the parties. It usually takes place at our office over the course of a few hours where your legal team here at Brisbane Injury Lawyers is present to advise you and be your voice every step of the way.