WorkCover Permanent Impairment Assessments and Lump Sum Offer Payouts

Permanent Impairment Assessment

In the realm of workers’ compensation in Queensland, understanding the permanent impairment assessment QLD procedures is only half the battle. It’s essential to also recognise the real value and potential of pursuing a common law claim rather than simply accepting the lump sum payout.

Key insights:

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only. For tailored advice specific to your circumstances, contact Denning Insurance Law

Table of Contents

Understanding the End of a Workers' Compensation Claim in Qld

The Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) defines the conditions when a claim may conclude. This includes when a worker’s incapacity ends, when weekly payments extend for 5 years, or when compensation reaches its maximum.

Getting assessed for permanent impairment for work related injuries

WorkCover or a self-insurer may arrange for a worker to be assessed for a degree of permanent impairment. If an assessment is not arranged by the insurer, a worker can request for it to be organised and the insurer will book an appointment with an external medical officer (an independent health care professional) or will refer the worker to the Medical Assessment Tribunal. 

A worker cannot choose the doctor that performs the assessment. 

Unpacking the permanent impairment assessment

A permanent impairment assessment is performed either by one health care professional or, by a Medical Assessment Tribunal. The health care professional will be provided with documents from the statutory claim file and instructions by the insurer.

The health professional will ask questions and perform an examination, in order to assess the worker’s injuries in accordance with the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (GEPI). The appointment is not like an appointment with a health care provider for treatment purposes. A worker should not expect to receive advice about future treatment they may require or the long term effects of their injuries.

The Notice of Assessment and Lump Sum Offer Payout

Once a worker’s injuries have been assessed, WorkCover or the self-insurer must issue a Notice of Assessment to the worker.

A Notice of Assessment must be sent within 10 business days of the insurer receiving the permanent impairment for the worker. Any entitlement of the worker to lump sum compensation must be noted with the inclusion of a lump sum offer, with the Notice of Assessment.

It is wise for workers to seek legal advice upon receiving a Notice of Assessment, prior to responding to the offer. 

Calculating the Lump Sum Offer Payout for Permanent Impairment

The lump sum compensation payable to a worker is calculated by multiplying the worker’s degree of permanent impairment by the maximum statutory compensation payable.  The maximum statutory compensation payable as at 1 July 2023 is $380,575.30. 

Addressing Dual Impact: Physical and Psychological Injuries

For workers who suffer both physical and psychological injuries, two (2) Notices of Assessment will issue after their injuries have been assessed.

The Act expressly prevents workers from adding the impairments together to produce an overall percentage of 20% or more.

The Path to Disagreeing with the Notice of Assessment

A worker who does not agree with the percentage impairment noted on a Notice of Assessment, can disagree with the Notice of Assessment within 20 business days.

Further Assessment of Permanent Impairment

If a worker disagrees with the percentage impairment stated in the Notice of Assessment, the insurer may decide within 10 business days to arrange for the worker to be assessed again for permanent impairment. If the insurer decides not to arrange for the worker to be reviewed again, it must refer the worker for assessment of the worker’s degree of permanent impairment by the Medical Assessment Tribunal.

The Role of the Medical Assessment Tribunal

Upon a worker disagreeing with a Notice of Assessment, the insurer may refer the worker for assessment of their injuries by a Medical Assessment Tribunal.  Medical Assessment Tribunals are convened by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator, which is a separate statutory authority from WorkCover and independent of all self-insurers. 

The Medical Assessment Tribunal is comprised of a panel of three (3) specialist doctors who are briefed with all relevant material on the workers’ compensation file, to re-assess the worker’s permanent impairment.  The impairment assessment of the Medical Assessment Tribunal cannot be appealed.

Making an Irrevocable Election with respect to Notice of Assessment

A worker who receives a Notice of Assessment for an injury which is less than 20%, must make an irrevocable election between:

It is important for workers to seek legal advice with respect to a Notice of Assessment, before replying to the lump sum offer and Notice of Assessment. 

A worker who accepts a lump sum offer will be forever prevented from pursuing a claim for damages for that injury.

A worker who is assessed with a degree of permanent impairment of 20% or more, may accept the lump sum offer and pursue a common law claim for damages.  Very few workers suffer injuries with impairments which are over 20%.

Weighing Your Options: Lump Sum Compensation vs. Common Law Claim for Damages

The main differences between lump sum compensation and common law claims for damages are:

Lump Sum Compensation Common Law Claim for Damages
No-fault claim Fault based claim
Compensation is usually calculated with reference only to a degree of permanent impairment Damages are assessed under a number of “heads of damage”. Depending on the nature and extent of the injuries involved a worker can generally seek damages for past and future losses.
Compensation is the same irrespective of the worker’s age, years of experience in their field of work. Damages claims are tailored to each individual claimant.

Permanent Impairment Payout Amounts in QLD - 2023-2024

The table below sets out some examples of permanent impairment payout amounts for injuries assessed after 1 July 2023.

The payout amounts are a percentage of the maximum statutory compensation payable under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld), which is $380,575.30 (as at 1 July 2023). To calculate the lump sum offer for a permanent impairment rating, you simply multiply the degree of permanent impairment by the maximum statutory lump sum ($380,575.30). 

Permanent Impairment Rating Lump Sum Offer for Notice of Assessment
5% $19,028
10% $38,057
15% $57,086
20% $76,115

Workers with a permanent impairment rating of 30% or more are entitled to additional lump sum compensation, calculated on a graduated scale. 

Navigating WorkCover Damages Payouts

Lump sum amounts, determined by the permanent impairment calculator QLD, can be restrictive. In contrast, a common law claim offers a personalised approach, potentially yielding higher damages by accounting for the broader, long-term impacts of injuries.

Here is a summary of some of the heads of damage under which workers can seek workers’ compensation payouts:

Head of Damage Damages payout
General Damages Up to $387,230
Special Damages Unlimited
Past and future loss of earnings Up to $4,846 (g) per week
Loss of superannuation On past and future lost earnings
Interest As prescribed under legislation
Care and assistance Subject to limitations under legislation

For more information about common law claims for damages, see our article Getting a WorkCover Qld Common Law Payout or book a telephone consultation with us.

Your Future Deserves More: Don't Settle Early!

Work-related injuries can be deeply distressing, especially when exacerbated by employer negligence or unfair treatment by an insurer. Bear in mind that the permanent impairment assessment in QLD is not merely a procedural step but a gateway to common law damages which often yield much higher compensation. So, before settling for a lump sum, consider obtaining expert legal advice to safeguard your rights and secure a brighter future.

Partner with Denning Insurance Law

At Denning Insurance Law, we don’t just guide you through the permanent impairment assessment QLD process; we advocate for your right to fair compensation. Our recommendation? Before you accept any lump sum offers, explore the possibilities of a common law claim. Begin with a FREE consultation with us. With your rights and well-being as our top priority, let us help you secure the best compensation package possible.