WCRA: amendments to allow dispute of the 5% threshold assessment

I refer to my earlier post concerning the introduction of the Workers Compensation Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 to impose a 5% threshold to access common law damages, amongst other matters. At 11:58 pm on 17/10/2013 after the Government guillotined the debate it was passed with some amendments. The amendments in large provide for mutually agreed medical specialists where there is a dispute about the impairment assessment, in a similar way to the NSW scheme before going to the Medical Assessment Tribunal:

2. After clause 68

Page 39, after line 25— insert—

68A Replacement of s 186 (Worker’s disagreement with assessment of permanent impairment)

Section 186— omit, insert

186 Worker’s disagreement with assessment of permanent impairment

(1) This section applies if—

(a) the worker’s degree of permanent impairment has not been assessed by a medical assessment tribunal; and

(b) the worker does not agree with the degree of permanent impairment stated in the notice of assessment (the original notice).

(2) The worker must advise the insurer within 20 business days after the original notice is given (the decision period) that the worker—

(a) does not agree with the degree of permanent impairment; and

(b) requests—

(i) that the insurer has the worker’s injury assessed again under section 179 by an entity mentioned in section 179(2) and agreed to by the worker and the insurer,

(other than the entity that gave the report to the insurer under section

179(3)); or

(ii) that the insurer refer the question of degree of permanent impairment to a tribunal for decision.

(3) If the worker makes a request mentioned in subsection (2)(b)(i), the insurer must decide,

within 10 business days after receiving the request, whether to have the worker’s injury assessed again under section 179 to decide if the worker’s injury has resulted in a degree of permanent impairment.

(4) If, under subsection (3), the insurer decides to have the worker’s injury assessed again under section 179, the original notice is taken to have never been given.

(5) If the insurer has the worker’s injury assessed again under section 179, the worker can not make a further request mentioned in subsection

(2)(b)(i).

(6) If—

(a) under subsection (3), the insurer decides not to have the worker’s injury assessed again under section 179; or

(b) the worker makes a request mentioned in subsection (2)(b)(ii); the insurer must refer the question of degree of permanent impairment to a medical assessment for decision.

(7) The degree of permanent impairment may then

be decided only by a medical assessment tribunal.

 

Otherwise, there is a minor amendment in relation to the provision about the worker’s requirement to provide information to the employer, by inserting the word “knowingly”.

 

Brisbane Barrister – David Cormack

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