Permanent impairment usually causes life-altering changes, leaving people unable to normally fulfill their professional activities and even mundane everyday activities, directly leading to a lower quality of life. A person who suffers permanent impairment in an accident, be it work or traffic related – or even simply caused by third party actions or negligence – can often be entitled to financial compensation. In order to make a claim related to permanent impairment, an individual needs to refer to a predefined structure and first determine his or her eligibility.
Permanent impairment compensation claims only apply to conditions which leave lasting consequences (e.g. limb mobility loss, spinal column trauma) after full medical treatment and rehabilitation attempts were completed. A standard time frame for this process is 12 months, or until medical experts have certified that the injury is stable, meaning the condition will not change significantly over time.
Physical injuries are standardly diagnosed by competent specialists, while psychiatric claims need to be assessed by the Medical Assessment Tribunal (MAT). These medicinal bodies then analyze the injury report, as well as all available documents related to the treatment and rehabilitation of the claimant. Should the claimant be unsatisfied with the initial assessment of their impairment, they can nominate a doctor specifically trained in Guidelines for Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (GEPI) and specialized in the relevant field of expertise to do a second assessment within the next two months.
Filing and resolving a claim
Once the basic prerequisites have been met and the claimant has completed all relevant medical assessments to determine the level of impairment, they need to fill out the Worker’s Claim for Impairment Benefits Form. Afterwards, the claim form is to be presented to the claimant’s employer, or to the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) in case the employer no longer exists.
Once the process of analyzing the claim (which can take up to 120 days) is finalized, the claimant receives Notice of Impairment Benefit Liability, Assessment and Entitlement, stating whether the liability is accepted and if so, for which claims and what amount. Claimants who feel unhappy about the impairment decision or the compensation amount can address the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS), but they should first be thoroughly acquainted with all the details of the Guide to the Assessment for the Degree of Permanent Impairment.
Furthermore, there are also cases where an individual might be entitled to impairment benefits, which are a form of once-off lump sum compensation packages, and can be made alongside the standardized weekly payments or rehabilitation services provided by VWA.
Dealing with permanent impairment compensation is a very delicate matter, and the outcome is influenced by a host of factors. In order to ensure that all relevant procedures pertaining to the claim have been honored, claimants should have full mastery over the Guide to the Assessment for the Degree of Permanent Impairment. However, if an individual feels threatened or insecure due to the scope of this process, they should carefully consider acquiring professional legal representatives who specialize in claims of these type to help and guide them.