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Struck By Misfortune: Changes To The Workers Compensation Legislation Now In Force

Written By:  Karena Nicholls, Esq.

Kells The Lawyers

Sydney, Australia

Most of us have been struck by misfortune some time in our lives. It’s at those times that we need reassurance, guidance and understanding.

The most recent is the changes to the workers compensation legislation. The legislation change has lead to confusion, discussion and debate with a somewhat undesirable outcome.

Weekly Benefit Scheme
Workers who are claiming weekly benefits after 1 October 2012 will find their claims managed under the new weekly benefits scheme from 1 January 2013, workers claiming benefits prior to 1 October 2012 will be transitioned to the new legislative regime which will result in work capacity assessments being conducted on each of those workers and three months after the assessments take place those transitioning workers will have their benefits regulated by the new regime.

For weekly compensation claims made after 1 October 2012, benefits will be calculated on average weekly earnings of the worker and no weekly compensation will be payable to a worker after five years (260 weeks) of weekly payments except where the worker has a whole person impairment greater than 30%.

There will be three entitlement periods (weeks 1 to 13, weeks 14 to 130 and after week 130) with weekly payments after week 130 weeks only available to totally incapacitated workers and partially incapacitated workers who have returned atleast 15 hour per week.

Lump Sum Claims
Claims made after 19 June 2012 will now have to reach a greater than 10% whole person impairment to receive lump sum compensation. A claim for pain and suffering has now been abolished. This will have substantial affects on workers who are unable to claim lump sum compensation due to the threshold.

Legal Costs
The requirement for each party pay its own costs has been lifted by the introduction of the WIRO body to provide free legal advice.

Workcover Independent Review Office (WIRO)
The Workcover independent review office has established the Independent Legal Assistance and Review Service. The service will enable workers access to free legal advice where there is a disagreement with insurers in respect of entitlements. Each claim will be assessed individually in respect of the grant. Kells has three approved WIRO Solicitors on the panel.

The legislation has been and will continue to be challenged in the Court during the transitional periods and we at Kells aim to shed some light on some of the issues.

If we can assist you please do not hesitate to contact us on (02) 4221 9311 orknicholls@kells.com.au.

For more information about Kells The Lawyers, please visit www.kells.com.au or the International Society of Primerus Law Firms.

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