Changes to the Queensland workers’ compensation laws came into effect on 15 October 2013.
Perhaps the most significant amendment is the introduction of a threshold on common law claims for damages. For any worker injured on or after 15 October 2013, in order to be entitled to commence a common law claim against a negligent employer, the worker’s injury must have sustained an injury resulting in a degree of permanent impairment of more than 5%.
An injury resulting in a relatively low impairment can have devastating effects on some workers.
Consider the following scenarios:-
A part time clerical worker sustains an injury to their leg, resulting in degree of permanent impairment of 6%. The injury has little impact on the worker’s ability to work. The clerical worker is entitled to bring a common law claim for damages against their employer.
A builder’s labourer sustains an injury to their back, resulting in a permanent impairment of 5%. The injury is effective career-ending because the worker can no longer lift or carry anything weighing more than 5-10kgs. They cannot climb ladders, work in confined spaces or walk on uneven surfaces. Because the labourer’s injury does not exceed the 5% threshold, they have no entitlement to a common law claim.
It is estimated that the introduction of the threshold will reduce the number of common law claims by at least 50%.
Another key change is employers are now able to access prospective employees’ workers’ compensation claim histories. A prospective employee’s failure to disclose each and every previous workers’ compensation claim that they have made – even if the claim was rejected – may result in the worker not being entitled to receive compensation for any injury whatsoever.
For example, an employer asks an employee about their workers’ compensation history. The employee cut their finger at work several years earlier. They had no time off work, but their employer paid for one GP consultation to dress the wound. The employee fails to disclose the cut finger to the employer. Sometime later the employee sustains a serious injury as a result of the gross negligence of the employer. The employee is rendered a paraplegic as a result of the event. Because the employee failed to disclose the previous finger injury, they may not be entitled to receive any workers’ compensation benefits whatsoever as a result of the recent devastating injury.
The changes to the workers’ compensation laws have reduced the rights of injured workers in Queensland.
If you need legal advice contact GC Law on 1300 302 318 or visit our Free Case Review page, we’ll review all the details of your case and potential claim first, to determine if you have a good chance of success in claiming a compensation payout.