The NSW Court of Appeal has handed down its decision today, 29 April 2013, in the case of Goudappel v ADCO Constructions.
Mr Goudappel had made a claim for compensation generally prior to 19 June 2012. Then, after 19 June 2012, he made a claim specifically for lump sum compensation for permanent impairment (arising from the same pre 19 June 2012 injury). The specific lump sum claim was for 6% whole person impairment which amounted to $8,250.
Mr Goudappel’s claim went before the Workers Compensation Commission (“WCC”) and he lost. This is because the 2012 workers compensation amendments said, among other things, that (i) a worker who receives an injury that results in a degree of impairment greater than 10% is entitled to receive lump sum compensation, and, (ii) the amendment extends to a claim for compensation made on or after 19 June 2012, but not to such a claim made before that date. (The WCC interpreted the phrase “claim for compensation made” to mean claims specifically for lump sum compensation. It ruled against Mr Goudappel since his claim for lump sum compensation was after 19 June 2012 and only for 6%).
The Court of Appeal has OVERTURNED the WCC’s decision. It said the preferred meaning of the phrase “claim for compensation made” is the claim for compensation generally. It said the 2012 amendments do not [our emphasis] apply to claims for compensation made before 19 June 2012 in respect of an injury that results in permanent impairment, whether or not the claim specifically sought permanent impairment / pain and suffering compensation.
In other words, as we understand the Court of Appeal’s decision, workers who have made claims generally for compensation for injuries prior to 19 June 2012:
a) Do not have to establish the new greater than 10% threshold;
b) Can bring multiple claims for lump sum permanent impairment compensation as their impairment deteriorates and are not limited to just one claim (which is another of the 2012 amendments); and
c) Can claim an extra lump sum for pain and suffering (which was abolished by the 2012 amending legislation and is not recoverable by workers who have suffered injuries / made claims for compensation on or after 19 June 2012) if they have / when they reach the necessary level of impairment (in the case of injuries prior to 1 January 2002, impairment/s that amount to $10,000, or, in the case of injuries after 1 January 2002 whole person impairment of at least 10%).
This is a positive decision for workers who suffered injuries and made claims for compensation prior to 19 June 2012.