We are often contacted by workers that have been injured and received from WorkCover (or a workers’ compensation self-insurer) a Notice of Assessment offering a lump sum payment for their permanent impairment.
This occurs when a person injured at work has received compensation from WorkCover and their statutory claim for benefits has come to an end.
Being assessed for permanent impairment does not mean that a worker is ‘all better’ or ‘back to normal’ after an injury. It just means that the injury has stabilised and reached maximum medical improvement, so symptoms are not likely to change.
This can be a confusing and stressful time for an injured worker. Their benefits are being stopped and there is uncertainty about what their rights are once they receive the Notice of Assessment.
In this situation there are some important things to remember. These include:
- If the percentage permanent impairment is less than 20% (which is often the case) accepting the lump sum offer made in the Notice of Assessment will prevent the worker from suing the employer for damages for the personal injuries (this is called commencing a common law claim);
- The worker may seek a review of the percentage impairment within 20 business days of receiving the notice. Whether it is worthwhile doing this depends on the medical evidence and the worker’s prospects of successfully claiming damages for personal injuries in a common law claim;
- Apart from seeking review, options open to the worker are to either accept, reject, or defer the lump sum offer contained in the Notice of Assessment. If a decision is not communicated to WorkCover within 20 business days, the worker is taken to have deferred the offer. This is the safest option until legal advice is obtained.
As you can see, how to respond to the Notice of Assessment and lump sum offer is an important decision for a worker to make, and we recommend speaking to us beforehand. We can provide advice as to the options and prospects of bringing a claim for damages against an employer, and whether it is in the worker’s best interests to accept or reject a lump sum offer.
We are happy to provide free, no obligation advice about these issues and look forward to speaking to you.