Fundamental changes was made to workers compensation legislation in June 2012. In particular this included a provision that a lawyer was not entitled to be paid or recover any costs for a legal service provided to a worker in connection with a review of a work capacity decision. A work capacity decision involves the termination or drastic reduction in the weekly payments of compensation made to an injured worker. This meant that an injured worker would have to deal with a work capacity decision on his or her own, without being able to obtain any legal advice.
However, in December 2016 the NSW government proclaimed a Regulation that now allows a lawyer to be paid some costs in acting for an injured worker on a merit review of a work capacity decision. This application is made to the Merit Review Service of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA). Those costs will be paid by a workers compensation insurer irrespective of whether the application for a merit review involves a positive outcome for the injured worker.
An injured worker will still need to make an application for an internal review with the insurer following upon the findings of a work capacity decision, if the injured worker does not agree with the results. If that internal review is not successful, then an injured worker should obtain legal advice as to whether a merit review to SIRA has any reasonable prospects of success.
John Isaksen of Adams Partners & Lawyers, has Specialist Accreditation in Personal Injury Law and over 30 years of experience in workers compensation law. John can provide advice and assistance to an injured worker who receives a work capacity decision and wishes to seek a merit review of that decision with SIRA