Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law at Lamrocks Solicitors in Penrith, Steve Groves, says several of his clients are among thousands in NSW that have been left in the lurch after a recent ruling in a matter of lump sum Workers Compensation payments that was put before the Court of Appeal.
A decision was reached on August 27 this year after the Cram Fluid Power P/L v Green case raised the question of whether a worker who specifically sought lump sum compensation for permanent impairment before June 19, 2012, which is when a new amendment was made to the Workers Compensation Act by the Baird Government, is entitled to make a second claim after that date.
The outcome was that the second claim that was submitted by Mr Green (the worker) was considered a new claim and subsequently, the client could not claim any further compensation, however, was told in a complying agreement that he was able to at the time of his first claim in 2010.
In a letter to Mike Baird’s office, Mr Groves explains that up until the recent decision in the case, the provision of the amendment was interpreted to mean that workers injured prior to June 19, 2012, had ‘one more go’ to claim lump sum compensation for permanent impairments.
He continues that after the ruling made in the case, the Court of Appeal has made the decision, through the case, that injured workers only have one claim for lump sum compensation ever, with workers who claimed before the change date to have already claimed their one time.
“The problem here is the unfairness of the situation for the people who were injured before June 19, 2012; who had been paid out for a claim they made and were told that they could make further claims if any further treatment was needed,” Mr Groves said.
“The new system allows those who are injured after 2012 to have their one go but at a time that suits them meaning they have the opportunity to wait.
“A group of my clients were all injured before the new amendment but were told at the time that they could return to ‘top up’ meaning if they had known it would be their last chance, they would have waited just like people are now – the Government changed the rules.”
One of Mr Groves’ clients, David Dwyer, has expressed his frustrations.
“People who claimed before the amendment date, like me, have appeared to have fallen through the cracks – it’s like they don’t want to know about us,” Mr Dwyer said.
NSW Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet, said there has been an improvement overall after the amendment was made.
“In 2012, the scheme was in crisis with a $4.1 billion deficit and Premiums among the highest in the nation,” he said.
“The 2012 reforms have significantly improved the financial performance of the Scheme, which is now back in the black, allowing it to remain sustainable in the long term.
“The most seriously injured workers are receiving substantially more benefits than before with the return to work rate in NSW now equal to the national average.”
Mr Groves said the problem is that his clients’ conditions have deteriorated but they are unable to receive support that they might have received from claiming a lump sum compensation.
– Jade Aliprandi