Time extended for workers’ compensation claims

Case note: Blackwood v Toward [2015] ICQ 008

Significant Contributing Factor Workers Compensation – Workers Compensation Regulator – Workers Compensation Claim – Workers Compensation Lawyers for Employers – Significant Contributing Factor Test

The Industrial Court of Queensland has handed down a decision which extends the time for making a claim for statutory benefits in Queensland.

In a judgment delivered on 24 March 2015, Martin J, President of the Industrial Court of Queensland found that a decision of the Industrial Relations Commission handed down 14 years ago misinterpreted the legislation and should not be followed.

Under section 131 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) a worker is required to start a claim for statutory benefits within 6 months from the time the ‘entitlement to compensation arises’.

Section 141(1) provides that the ‘entitlement to compensation arises’ on the day the worker is assessed by a doctor.  Martin J determined that the words, ‘assessed by a doctor’ require a doctor assessing a worker to consider not only whether they suffered an injury, but also, whether employment was a ‘significant contributing factor’.

The decision is likely to result in an increase in statutory claims.  It also now exposes insurers to claims for events which arose years earlier.  It will be interesting to see if a legislative amendment follows.

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