Workers Compensation

Good news – important changes to impact injured South Australian workers

Return to Work ActLate last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a decision on two matters heard concurrently, that set an important precedence for injured workers in South Australia seeking a lump sum payment under the Return to Work Act 2014 (SA) (The RTW Act).

TGB Lawyers acted for Mr Williams, the successful appellant in one of the two matters the subject of the appeal.

The impact

This decision impacts how broad an interpretation should be given to the concept of impairments ‘from the same injury or cause’ under sections 22 and 58 of the RTW Act.

The impact of this decision has in effect broadened these definitions, which may make it easier for injured workers to be classified as a ‘seriously injured worker’ under the RTW Act, and enable access to ongoing compensation for weekly payments and medical expenses.

Matter 1 – Return to Work Corporation v English

The facts

  1. Mr English suffered a work injury to his neck in March 2019.
  2. In May 2019, he suffered a further work injury when he fell and injured his right quadriceps. The fall occurred as a result of lightheadedness caused by prescribed pain medication Mr English was taking for his neck injury.
  3. The Return to Work Corporation (RTW Corp) chose to not combine the impairments relating to his two injuries when determining his entitlements under s 22 of the RTW Act.
  4. The Court of Appeal in this case found that both impairments were found to have arisen from the same injury (the initial neck injury), and from the same cause (the event that caused the initial neck injury or, indeed, the neck injury itself) and so are to be combined, despite the second impairment not being physiologically linked to the first impairment.

Matter 2 – Williams v Return to Work Corporation

The facts

  1. Mr Williams worked as an electrician. From early 2015, he was required to do more physically demanding work, including having to climb up ladders and stairs frequently, and do more work in a crouched or kneeling position.
  2. Over time, Mr Williams suffered increasing pain in both knees, undergoing surgery on both.
  3. He made a claim for lump sum payments under s 58 of the RTW Act, but the RTW Corp chose to not combine his two knee injuries when determining his entitlements.
  4. The Court of Appeal found that s22 wasn’t just limited to subsequent injuries arising from the initial injury – but that it extends to the combination of impairments from multiple injuries that both arose from the same incident or event. In other words – both knee injuries were caused by the regular climbing and crouching that Mr Williams was required to perform between May and August 2015.

Why is this decision important?

In assessing an injured worker seeking a lump sum payment, the RTW Corp will now be required to combine impairments from multiple injuries that are linked to the same incident or event, regardless of whether the injuries are physiologically linked to each other.

Get in touch with us

Tindall Gask Bentley has been advising people on their workers compensation claims for over 50 years. If you have been injured at work, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for help and advice.

You can register online here and we’ll contact you, or feel free to contact our SA Workers Compensation team on (08) 8212 1077. Alternatively, you can contact the author, Christie Tsoubarakis, on