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Permanent impairment and common law options

The information on this page relates to injuries which occurred before 15 October 2013, which is the date when new legislation relating to common law came into effect. Information relating to legislative amendments can be found on our Legislative Amendments October 2013 section. For workers injured from 15 October 2013, their injuries will be assessed using the Queensland Guide. View the process for the assessment of degree of permanent impairment (DPI) for further information, including a link to Queensland Guide trained doctors.

Your lump sum decision

If your injury has been assessed for permanent impairment and you have been offered a lump sum compensation payment to finalise your statutory claim, the information below will help you understand what happens next.

Your notice of assessment

Your degree of permanent impairment (DPI) has been assessed by a medical practitioner or the Medical Assessment Tribunal. Based on this assessment, WorkCover Queensland has offered you a lump sum compensation payment to finalise your statutory claim. Your offer is set out in your Notice of Assessment.

Your choice

You can choose to either accept, reject or defer the lump sum compensation offer. You may decide to lodge a common law claim. This may require you to make a choice between accepting the lump sum or lodging a common law claim, depending on your DPI.

What is common law?

Common law is the process where you seek a financial settlement, known as damages, from your employer, alleging they breached the duty of care they owed to you, and that this breach caused you loss.

Important things to know about common law

  • To be successful in a common law claim, you will need to prove your employer was negligent
  • You may need to undergo further medical assessments
  • Further factual evidence may be obtained from you, your colleagues, and your place of employment
  • You will need to supply information relating to your employment history, taxation records, and medical history
  • If your claim cannot be resolved by negotiation, court proceedings may commence
  • There are time limits by which common law claims may be commenced

Here's some further information about the common law claim process to assist you in deciding whether common law is the right path for you.

What are my options?

Option 1—if your DPI is less than 20%

You may accept your permanent impairment and the lump sum compensation payment, and finalise your statutory claim. If you choose to accept the lump sum offer, you will receive payment within seven days.

However, you will not be able to make a common law claim.

If you decide to make a common law claim, you will not be able to accept the lump sum offer.

Option 2—if your DPI is 20% or above

You are entitled to accept the lump sum compensation as well as seek damages via the common law process.

Frequently asked questions

Will I need representation?

Whilst it is not necessary, most people who proceed with a common law claim choose to engage a solicitor, as the process is a complex and legal nature.

How long will the process take?

The average common law claim takes up to 12 months to settle. If your claim proceeds to court, the process may take longer than 12 months.

What happens on completion of my common law claim?

If you reach a settlement, you will sign a deed of release which will require you to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.

There may be money deducted from your settlement amount. Some Government departments such as Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency are entitled to recover amounts owing to them from settlements before payment to you.

Settlements are generally paid to your solicitor’s trust account. You should talk with your solicitor at an early stage about what amounts may be deducted and legal costs involved.

Last updated
19 December 2019

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