‘Degree of permanent impairment’ (also known as ‘percentage of permanent impairment’ or ‘DPI’) is the percentage value a specialist medical assessor will give you to illustrate the severity of your injury. A degree of permanent impairment is only given where there has been a permanent injury and is usually for the purposes of determining the grounds for a workplace personal injury claim before it proceeds to common law. The Queensland Government provides the Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (“GEPI”), and practitioners in Queensland are bound to follow such guidelines.
Degree of permanent impairment threshold
Up until recently, there was a threshold of 6% degree of permanent impairment to be able to make a claim for common law damages. This meant that unless your workplace injury was severe enough to be counted as a 6% permanent impairment assessed under the guidelines, then you could not pursue compensation outside of what was provided for by WorkCover. Under this rule, a lot of people who had significant injuries were unable to access the court system for a ruling of compensation which was devastating to a lot of people.
While you might think, “6% doesn’t sound like a very serious injury because it’s such a low percentage”, it is important to remember that for an injury valued lower than 6%, if it was awarded anything other than a 0%, the injured party still had a permanent impairment that was going to affect them the rest of their lives.
Fortunately, this 6% degree of permanent impairment threshold was repealed on 31 January 2015, and now you will be eligible to pursue a workplace personal injury claim at common law if you sustained your injury after this time, and you have been assessed as having any degree of permanent impairment.
For any person who sustained a workplace injury between 15 October 2013 and 30 January 2015 that was assessed below the 6% threshold, unfortunately you remain unable to pursue common law damages. If this is you, and you haven’t accepted a lump sum offer, you may wish to consider having the assessment reviewed by an alternative specialist practitioner, or by the Medical Assessment Tribunal.
Degree of permanent impairment and your potential compensation payout
As a general rule of thumb, the higher your degree of permanent impairment, the more likely you are to receive a larger amount of common law damages compensation for your workplace injury. However, other factors are also taken into consideration by the court in determining compensation, including your contributory negligence (how you contributed to the injury), your past medical history and whether your employer was actually at fault.
Notice of Assessment and Lump Sum Offers
When you receive a notice of assessment from the doctor about your degree or permanent impairment, the insurer will usually provide you with a lump sum offer to settle the matter before going to court. Often insurers will offer an amount that is decent enough to make you consider it, but is nowhere near what you might be able to achieve by going to court with your personal injury claim. If you accept this lump sum offer, you will not be able to pursue your claim for common law damages which could be a terrible mistake for you to make.
Workplace Accident Lawyers Brisbane
When you receive this lump sum offer, it is very important that you do not accept it without first consulting with a Workplace Accident Lawyer. Most Brisbane workplace accident lawyers are also no win no fee lawyers, meaning that you won’t pay any legal fees unless or until you win your workplace injury claim. If you need assistance with a workplace injury claim, contact our offices today on (07) 3252 0011 for a free initial consultation with our Workplace Accident Lawyers Brisbane.