Despite a current medical certificate, benefits will not be paid by the workers compensation insurer forever.
If a worker is not able to return to work, there will come a time when medical treatment is unable to improve the outcome for the injury. Once your condition can neither improve nor become worse, the workers compensation insurer will try to finalise your claim.
They will arrange for an assessment of your injury/ies either by a specialist, an external medical examiner, or by a Medical Assessment Tribunal. They will ask for an assessment of whether the injury has reached a position where it is stable and stationary. If this is agreed, the doctor will be asked to assess the level of permanent impairment attributable to the injury.
In accordance with the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (the WCRA), there are maximum lump sum payments set. Depending upon the assessment of impairment, converted to a WRI (work-related impairment) assessment, a certain amount will be payable to you. This offer will be made via a letter from WorkCover or the insurer enclosing a Notice of Assessment.
If you are assessed as having sustained less than a 20% WRI, you will have to make an election to EITHER accept the lump sum payment OR pursue a damages claim against your employer (in appropriate circumstances). This is where permanent injury claims can come into play.
If you are not satisfied with the assessment of impairment and you have only been assessed by a doctor, you have a right to disagree with the assessment. If you do disagree, your assessment will be referred to the Medical Assessment Tribunal. You will need to make this election within 20 business days of the Notice of Assessment being received by you.
If you receive an offer from the insurer, it is very important that you consider your options fully, seek all appropriate advice, and do not sign anything until you have considered your advice and your circumstances fully.
A hasty decision at this stage of your claim can have permanent and tragic consequences.