Recent reform to awards for pain and suffering for those who have suffered a workplace injury brings the Workers Compensation & Rehabilitation Act into line with the damages available under the Civil Liability Act for motor vehicle and other accidents, thereby creating a more uniform compensation scheme in Queensland.
Serious injury invariably leads to loss of income and added expenses for the claimant. The cost of medical treatment coupled with an inability to work during rehabilitation is a source of serious financial strain for many Australian families. A successful claim for damages will help offset this loss.
Unless the claimant is a minor, the right to claim will generally expire three years after the accident occurred, or after the claimant became aware their injuries were caused by an accident. Thus, it is vital that claims are initiated in a timely manner.
Personal injury claims only succeed if another person (such as your employer or other vehicle driver) owed a duty to the claimant, and breached that duty through negligent action or inaction. A causative link to the injuries must also be demonstrated.
Negligence by the claimant may reduce or eliminate the compensation. Claimants must avoid obvious risks and take care for their own safety.
Awards for pain and suffering (general damages) are based on medical opinion which determines the severity of the injury suffered and any resultant long term impairment. For injuries sustained from 1 July 2010 onwards, the Workers Compensation & Rehabilitation Regulations Injury Scale Value tables sets out the awards payable.
However, there is more to a personal injuries claim than simply attempting to quantify the pain and loss of enjoyment of life suffered. Additional types of awards may be made to successful claimants:
- past economic loss (and past superannuation);
- estimated future economic loss (and future superannuation);
- past hospital/medical/rehabilitation costs and related out of pocket expenses;
- predicted future rehabilitative expenses and out-of-pocket expenses; and
- care provided, in the past and/or future, by family and friends, or employed carers and other service providers.
These awards aim to put the claimant back in the position they would be in had the negligence and resultant injury not occurred. This can return some kind of financial normalcy to the lives of those affected by serious injury.