Injured People

Impact of The Return to Work Act SA

TGB's Tim White and Gary Allison outline some of the key implications that have arisen following the introduction of the Return to Work Act 2014, including the changes to weekly payments, lump sum payments and future costs.

Workers Compensation lawyers Tim White and Gary Allison outline some of the key implications that have arisen following the introduction of the Return to Work Act 2014, including the changes to weekly payments, lump sum payments and future costs.

The introduction of the Return to Work Act on 1 July 2015  has brought a number of changes impacting on an injured worker’s entitlements for weekly payments and medical expenses. Being aware of these changes may make a material difference to entitlements, especially when considering the impact of time limits and lump sum payments. Having a better understanding of these new laws and approaching a lawyer for advice as to issues that might apply to you could make a difference.

No More Weekly Payments:

For most injured workers receiving weekly payments as at 1 July 2015 the future entitlement will be limited to a period of two years. That is, the entitlement to receive weekly payments will end for most no later than 30 June 2017.

Medical Expenses:

If you were not in receipt of weekly payments as at 1 July 2015 then your entitlement to claim for medical and related treatment expenses for your work caused injuries will very likely come to an end as at 30 June 2016. This is a major change from the previous Act. Even if you do have an ongoing entitlement to weekly payments your entitlement to claim medical and related treatment costs will come to an end 12 months after weekly payments cease. If you continue to receive weekly payments until 30 June 2017 any entitlement to claim medical and related treatment costs will end no later than 30 June 2018.

Future surgery:

If you are likely to require surgery for your work related injury at some time in the future it is possible to seek approval for such surgery to be undertaken at a later time and for the costs of the surgery and associated medical, nursing or rehabilitation services to be covered. The application for this approval must be made before 1 July 2016. This application will likely involve obtaining medical evidence as to the nature of the surgery and that it is reasonable and appropriate for such surgery to be undertaken at a later time. The deadline for making the application is important.

Therapeutic Appliances:

The provisions in the Return to Work Act fixing time limits to end the entitlements to claim for medical and related treatment costs do not apply to therapeutic appliances required to maintain an injured worker’s capacity. Therapeutic appliance is defined to include spectacles or contact lenses, a hearing aid, false teeth, a prosthesis, a crutch or wheelchair or any other appliance or aid reducing the extent of an injury. It is not entirely clear whether the reference in the Act to capacity is to an injured person’s working capacity of their capacity generally for day to day activities.

Lump Sum Option (Redemption):

If you have suffered a work related injury under the previous Act and have been continuing to receive weekly payments since 1 July 2015 or have continued to claim for medical and related treatment costs, it is likely you have recently received a letter from Employers Mutual SA or Gallagher Bassett inviting you to accept a lump sum payment to finalise your future entitlement for weekly payments and/or future medical expenses. This is known as a redemption. If you have received, or do in the future receive, such a letter it is very important that you seek legal advice. Many injured workers have already approached our firm for advice. You are entitled to recover costs for obtaining legal advice up to a prescribed limit of $900.00. These costs for obtaining advice are recoverable whether or not you proceed to finalise your entitlements by way of a redemption.

In summary, there are significant implications for injured workers as a result of the changes introduced by the Return to Work Act. There are a number of considerations that need to be addressed and seeking advice as early as possible is important. If you have already received a letter proposing the option to now finalise entitlements for future weekly payments and/or medical expenses you should obtain advice … now. TGB offers free initial interviews for injured workers.

Gary Allison and Tim White are partners at South Australia’s largest personal injury law firm. 

For a free initial interview about your workers compensation claim contact us

Read more blogs about workers compensation here.