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Impairment Benefits for Employees & How they Work

What Happens When You’ve Been Injured at Work?

“Impairment benefit” is a phrase you may have come across if you’ve ever been involved in a workers compensation claim. That said, a significant portion of Australians don’t know what the term means – and are unsure what to expect after they lodge an impairment claim.

After lodgement, you’ll receive a decision from the insurer, which you then have to accept or challenge. Most people injured at work are unsure which route would be best for them at this stage.

Impairment benefits were realised as a replacement of outdated methods, that did no real favours for injured workers. Before a legislated compulsory insurance scheme was created, workers would have to sue their employer personally if they wanted any chance of recovering lost income due to a work injury.

Even then, it was difficult to extract the compensation the worker deserved. Whether they had limited funds themselves, or the employer refused to pay out on the grounds that they didn’t have the assets, employees would usually leave an injury affected both financially and physically.

A new approach has since been introduced, that says that all employers must offer workers compensation insurance. This prevents workers from suing their employer directly, but in place they receive “no fault” benefits. In essence, this means employees are entitled to benefits even without having to prove their employer was at fault.

This insurance encompasses three main benefits:

  1. Payment of wages when you are unable to work
  2. Payment of associated medical expenses
  3. “Impairment benefits”

What are Impairment Benefits?

This is the benefit that means a worker doesn’t have to establish blame in order to be entitled to a lump sum. If you are impacted by permanent impairment or any ongoing restrictions, you’ll receive the lump sum. Should you completely, or substantially recover, then it is unlikely you’ll receive this compensation.

This benefit came into play to replace the right to personally sue your employer. This way, you can still be compensated fairly for any injuries you receive at work.

The legislation states that a worker can only lodge a claim for impairment benefits once their injuries have stabilised. Keep this in mind when settling, as you cannot change your claim if your injury grows more severe. Another reason for this rule is so that insurers are only liable for permanent impairment, so are likely to refuse an application if the injury hasn’t yet stabilised.

Your lawyer can lodge your impairment claim on your behalf. Ensure you have all details and medical reports, along with information about any expenses related to your injury. Your employer’s insurer will be given a period of 120 days in which to respond to the claim, after which you’ll find out if you’re eligible to a lump sum. If you have any queries about impairment benefits or anything else related to workplace injuries, get in touch with u-Law. Contact us on 0416 415 117.

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