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What is a an impairment rating?

Permanent Impairment Payout Amounts in Victoria are governed by different legislative schemes depending on where and how you were injured. If your injury has left you with a permanent impairment or disability, you may be entitled to a one-time lump sum payment called an impairment benefit. You need to meet certain thresholds to be eligible for an impairment benefit payment.

Impairment is measured using the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (the Guides). The Guides provide instructions to qualified medical practitioners on how to measure the extent an injury has affected a person’s body movements, systems or functions.

Before an injury can be measured it must be considered stable. This means that the injury is not expected to change over time or due to surgery. It usually takes at least 12 months for an injury to stabilise.

Each injury is then given a percentage rating based on the level of impairment. Multiple impairments are combined to produce a total, whole person impairment value.

For example, a permanent impairment rating of 4% for a wrist injury, 6% for a head injury and 5% for ongoing psychological difficulties following an accident can combine to make a 15% whole person impairment rating. Alternatively, a particularly serious back injury could be given a 15% impairment rating on its own.

If your whole person impairment value is above a certain threshold you can qualify for an impairment benefit payment.

How much is the average settlement for a back injury?

It depends.

The amount you may receive in a settlement for a back injury will largely depend on:

  • The severity of your injury.
  • The complexity of your case.
  • The length of time it takes for your injury to stabilise.
  • Your age and pre-injury lifestyle.
  • The amount of time you need to take off work and your lost earnings.
  • Any changes to your ability to work.
  • The medical care and support you require.

If you sustain workplace injuries as the result of a motor vehicle accident, you are entitled to claim under the work health and safety WorkCover and TAC schemes respectively, regardless of who is at fault.

You can receive an amount of compensation for an Impairment Benefit Claim which reflects your assessed impairment rating and the relevant compensation associated with that impairment rating in the legislation.

In addition, if you have sustained a ‘serious injury’ as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may also be able to bring a common law claim for damages. Settlement negotiations can occur at various times throughout the resolution process and offers of settlement can be made at any point before or during legal proceedings.

The amount of compensation or damages that may be offered in a settlement will largely depend on the seriousness of your injury. The more serious your injury, the greater your economic and non-economic damages are likely to be.

Economic damages cover losses that have a direct financial impact on your life and are objectively quantifiable. These kinds of damages go towards compensating for past and future financial losses and out of pocket expenses. Examples of economic damages include medical expenses and loss of earnings if you are unable to work because of your injuries.

Non-economic damages are more subjective in nature and are therefore more difficult to quantify. Unlike economic damages, they are not capable of precise mathematical calculation. Types of loss for non-economic damages can be awarded including pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life.

Depending on the nature of your back injury, you may be able to make a claim for both economic and non-economic damages. If your injury is particularly serious you can also make a permanent impairment claim.

What to do if this information applies to you

At Gordon Legal, we understand that injuries resulting in impairment is a personal issue.

For personalised and individual advice, we offer consultations to discuss your matter.

Please call Gordon Legal on 1800 21 22 23 or our Geelong office on 1800 21 22 23 to speak with a member of our team.

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