Injured People

How Are Psychiatric Injuries Assessed Under New Workers Compensation Laws?

Amber Sprague outlines the new approach to assessing psychological injuries under new workers compensation laws in South Australia.

TGB’s Amber Sprague outlines the new approach to assessing psychological injuries under new workers compensation laws in South Australia. 


 

As you are hopefully by now aware, South Australia has experienced some of the most radical changes in the workers compensation system in many years.

The Return to Work Act 2014 took effect on 1 July 2015 and brings with it a raft of changes to the way that the system operates. 

One of those significant changes is the introduction of a “seriously injured worker” definition which will allow those who satisfy the criteria to have ongoing weekly payments of income maintenance to retirement age and ongoing reasonable medical expenses for life, unaffected by any of the new cut off dates. 

The criteria to be a seriously injured worker is a 30% Whole Person Impairment (WPI) for either physical or psychological injuries. The physical impairments and psychological impairments cannot be combined. 

Previously psychological impairments have not even been assessable but guidelines for assessing psychological/psychiatric impairment have now been introduced. 

The Government has adopted the GEPIC assessment scheme (Guidelines for the Evaluation of Psychiatric Impairment for Clinicians). 

This scheme will assess workers who have suffered psychiatric impairment as their primary injury, referred to in the new legislation as “pure mental harm”. 

A GEPIC assessment involves a consideration of the relevant medical evidence and an independent examination by a psychiatrist who has undergone the appropriate training and is accredited under the Act.  An assessment is to be conducted once a worker’s condition has stabilised or reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and will occur at least 12 months after the injured worker’s first day of incapacity. 

A psychiatrist will assess the injured worker having regard to their intelligence, thinking, perception, judgement, mood and behaviour and rank each of those mental functions from one to five depending on their level of impairment for that function.  From those results a whole person impairment (WPI) percentage is established. 

If you have a psychological impairment and a workers compensation claim and are unclear as to whether or not you fulfil the seriously injured worker criteria, it is important that you seek legal advice sooner rather than later. 

For advice regarding this issue or any other issue to do with your workers compensation claim, contact your nearest TGB office or register online here to arrange a free initial interview.