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16 Oct 15
Happy days for injured workers

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WHO SHOULD READ THIS

  • Managers responsible for workers’ compensation and/or personal injuries claims.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Understand the threshold to make a common law claim under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) has now been removed.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

  • Be aware of the potential increase in workers’ compensation claims.

The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (Qld) (2015 Bill) has now been passed and become Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Act No. 13 of 2015 (Qld) (Act).  

Background
On 17 July 2015 we released an article about the proposed reforms in workers’ compensation under the 2015 Bill.

The 2015 Bill which has now been passed, amends the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (WCRA) by removing the 5% threshold as well as removing a prospective employer’s entitlement to obtain particular documents.  It also amends some of the procedural aspects of the workers’ compensation application and review processes as well as grants a right for certain workers to claim lump sum compensation.

Decision
Removal of the 5% threshold for access to common law damages
The Act restores common law rights to injured workers.  A worker is no longer required to have an assessed degree of permanent impairment (DPI) of more than 5% in order to access common law damages.  This amendment commences retrospectively from 31 January 2015.

Lump sum compensation for certain workers
Workers who were unable to commence a common law claim because they did not reach the 5% threshold between its inception date on 15 October 2013 and 31 January 2015 are now entitled to claim for a lump sum compensation payment.

Removal of prospective employer’s entitlement to obtain particular documents
The Act has withdrawn the entitlement of prospective employers to apply to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator for a copy of a prospective worker’s claims history summary. 

The obligation of a worker to disclose pre-existing injuries or medication, if requested by a prospective employer, remains unchanged in accordance with section 571B of the WCRA.

Likely outcomes

  • there will be an increase in common law claims under the WCRA with the removal of the 5% threshold
  • respondents to personal injuries claims under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) (PIPA) will once again be able to make third party contribution claims against WCRA Respondents where previously they were prohibited from doing so in claims where the Claimant was a worker who did not meet the 5% threshold
  • finalised statutory claims involving injuries with a DPI of 5% or below which occurred post 31 January 2015 may be re-opened as a result of the retrospective application of the 5% threshold removal, and
  • workers who did not meet the 5% threshold between 15 October 2013 and 31 January 2015 but who made and received compensation based on a PIPA claim, will now receive compensation from WorkCover which ordinarily would have been refunded to WorkCover as part of the PIPA claim process.

Focus covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. Focus is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.

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