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Worker's Compensation

  • New law effecting the entitlements of injured workers come into effect in South Australia on 1 July 2015. The following is a summary of the new provisions;
  • The test for compensability of a physical injury - the injury arises out of or in the course of employment and the employment was a significant contributing cause of the injury.
  • The test for compensability of a psychiatric injury - the injury arises out of or in the course of employment and the employment was the significant contributing cause of the injury.
  • Physical and Psychiatric injuries must be assessed separately, and the assessments cannot be combined to provide an indicator of Whole Person Impairment.
  • There is only one permanent impairment assessment allowed per claim, and this cannot be conducted until there is evidence that the injury is stabilised. Injuries that develop after the assessment cannot be included in the assessment of whole person impairment.
  • Aggravations of existing injuries can be eligible for compensation if the employment was a significant contributing cause of the aggravation. In the case of psychiatric injuries, the employment needs to be the significant contributing cause.
  • A worker who has a whole person impairment of 30% or more is 'seriously injured'. These workers are entitled to 100% of average weekly earnings for one year, and then 80% to retirement age. These workers can claim compensation for medical treatment for as long as it is 'reasonable and necessary'. Seriously injured workers can elect to sue their employer at common law. They are also able to elect to redeem their entitlements.
  • Worker's who are assessed as having a whole person impairment of 30% or less (the vast majority of injured workers), will have entitlement to income maintenance compensation for 104 weeks after they are unable to work (paid at 100% of average weekly earnings for 12 months and 80% thereafter). They will also be entitled to payments for medical expenses, which will discontinue 52 weeks after income maintenance payments cease. They are entitled to compensation for non-economic loss if they suffer a WPI of between 5% and 29%. Worker's suffering a physical (non-psychiatric) injury are entitled to claim a lump sum for economic loss for a WPI between 5% and 29%.
  • An employer must provide suitable employment to an injured worker within a reasonable time (one month), after which the worker may apply to the SA Employment Tribunal for an order that the employer provide such employment. The worker must have provided written notice to the employer that he/she is ready willing and able to return to work and provide information about the types of employment that he/she is capable of doing.
  • Any potential claimants should seek legal advice as soon as they are aware that they may have a claim.

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