NSW workers’ compensation claims: what does ‘whole person impairment’ mean?

Everyone has the right to go to work each day, knowing they’ll come home safely. If you’ve been injured or become ill at work you may be entitled to make a claim for workers’ compensation to cover lost wages, medical and rehabilitation costs, retraining expenses or a lump sum payment for permanent injuries.

There have been a lot of changes to arrangements in NSW for seeking workers’ compensation in recent years. You could be forgiven for being a little confused about where to start. After all, workers’ compensation laws and entitlements are already a little hard to keep up with because they vary between states and territories and may be known as WorkCover, CTP or WorkSafe. Compensation and benefits can vary greatly depending on your injury and on the law you’re covered by.

If you’ve been injured at work in NSW, Littles has you covered. This blog explores the meaning of ‘whole person impairment’ and what this means for you.

Read more here:

Your NSW workers’ compensation FAQs – Part 1 – Littles
Your NSW workers’ compensation FAQs – Part 2 – Littles

If you have a claim for workers compensation, during your claim you may be asked to submit to an independent Medical Examination (IME) for the purpose of assessing your level of whole person impairment.

Whole person impairment (“WPI”), is also referred to as permanent impairment. A whole person impairment assessment is an assessment of the degree of permanent impairment of any body part, system or function which is impaired as a result of an injury.

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What is involved in an assessment?

The insurer, or your solicitor, will refer you to a doctor of a speciality relevant to your injury, who is a SIRA approved assessor of permanent impairment. Generally, this will not be your treating specialist. The list of doctors who are SIRA approved assessors can be found here.

Why do I need an assessment of whole person impairment?

An assessment of whole person impairment and (if applicable) payment of lump sum compensation does not finalise your other entitlements to weekly payments and medical expenses, but the assessment itself will determine how long you are entitled to weekly payments and medical expenses.

If you’re an exempt worker, different arrangements are in place. Find out more here.

How is whole person impairment or permanent impairment assessed?

Your level of permanent impairment is calculated by a doctor who is trained to assess your injury in accordance with the Workers Compensation Guidelines for assessment of permanent impairment.

The doctor will assess:

· whether your injury has reached Maximum Medical Improvement

· whether the injury or condition results in an impairment

· whether that impairment is permanent

· what the degree of permanent impairment is

· if applicable, the proportion of permanent impairment due to a previous injury or pre-existing condition.

What does “lump sum compensation” mean?

There are three basic components to a claim for workers compensation:

· weekly payments, medical expenses, and lump sum compensation.Lump sum compensation is intended to compensate you for “pain and suffering” as a consequence of your injury. The calculation is made by an IME, who is a doctor with the required training and approval to assess permanent impairment in relation to a NSW workers compensation claim. That assessment is evidence, but is not conclusive of your condition, your fitness for work, or any other medical question.

How is the amount of compensation worked out?

In order to claim lump sum compensation for a physical injury, you must be assessed with whole person impairment of eleven per cent or more.

In order to claim lump sum compensation for a psychological injury, you must be assessed with whole person impairment of fifteen per cent or more.

The amount of money payable for a certain percentage of impairment is dependent upon the date of the injury, and the type of injury. The amounts payable are set out in the SIRA Workers Compensation Benefits Guide.

Don’t delay – seek advice now

Clearly, the workers’ compensation system can be complex, which is why it helps to seek quality legal advice as soon as possible. At Littles, we are experts in workplace injuries, and can help manage the process to ensure that you receive all appropriate entitlements and support. With Littles on your side, we can ensure that you get the fair treatment you deserve.

If your workers’ compensation claim has been rejected, or you would like to understand how to claim benefits to support you and your family while you are injured or ill, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

Read more here:

Help! My NSW workers’ compensation claim has been rejected. What do I do? – Littles

IMPORTANT: There are strict time limits for making and disputing a claim, so take advantage of our FREE initial consultation and get in touch. You have nothing to lose by speaking to one of our compensation law experts. The sooner we determine your eligibility to make or appeal a claim, the sooner we can help you to obtain or continue getting funding from the insurer so your rehabilitation can proceed smoothly

Free advice and no upfront fees

Not only do we offer a FREE initial consultation we handle most insurance claims on a no win, no fee basis.

The Head of our NSW team, Jessica Cheung, is an expert in NSW workers’ compensation claims. If you think you might have a claim, reach out to Jessica and her team for high quality legal advice.

Please note that this information is intended to provide general guidance only. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your individual circumstances. For further information, please contact Littles.

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