According to media reports, the “Return to Work (Permanent Impairment Assessment) Amendment Bill 2022” introduced before the South Australian Parliament would enable plaintiffs to receive compensation for subsequent injuries that resulted from the original work injury. It would also change the permanent impairment assessment process to lessen the circumstances where specific injuries could be combined.
The 2014 law covering permanent impairment assessment for workers provides that individual injuries would be combined “if they arise from ‘the same injury or cause’ or the ‘same trauma’,” said Joe Parisi, a lawyer from Gilchrist Connell, in a media release.
Parisi explained that the decision being followed now by the Supreme Court of SA states that work impairments could be combined if: (1) the worker suffers two or more injuries arising from the same incident; or (2) the impairments arise from an injury and a consequential injury.
“The proposed amendments will make it much more difficult for workers to reach the [required] impairment threshold to be treated as a seriously injured worker. The changes will also, in many cases, reduce lump sum entitlements for injured workers,” said Parisi.
The Law Society of South Australia has also expressed its concern about the bill, saying that it “will have a fundamental impact on the eligibility of injured workers to receive compensation.” The bill has also met opposition from unions and advocacy groups.
“Media reports suggest that the bill intends to address a court determination that enables plaintiffs to receive compensation for a subsequent injury that resulted from the original work injury. Introducing legislation to mitigate the effect of this judgment would significantly impact a number of injured workers, and, therefore should be subject to proper scrutiny before being introduced to Parliament,” said President Justin Stewart-Rattray, President of the Law Society of SA.