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As people we are prone to accidents and injuries. It’s part of being human. Injuries can happen in a range of ways, whether we are crossing the street and trip over a raised bit of pavement, or at work and injure our back and need to take a few days off to recover. The day-to-day injuries which we all suffer from time to time can be annoying, and painful, but for the most part they are minor.

Serious injury claim icon

What is more significant and difficult is when someone suffers a serious injury as a result of someone else’s negligence and is put in a position where their lives are changed and where they have to adjust their lives around living with an injury. This article is here to help you understand more about serious injuries, how they are defined, and what is classified as a serious injury in certain situations. This article also provides information on how you can seek help in the form of compensation for your loss.

Many injuries are suffered at work or in the course of our employment - whether we are travelling to or from work and are in a car accident or are injured in a workplace accident. The National Injury Insurance Scheme, Queensland (NIISQ) was established in 2016 to provide care and support for people who suffered serious personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident. Serious personal injuries may include permanent spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries, multiple or high-level limb amputations, severe burns, or permanent blindness.

As at 30 June 2018, there were 139 active serious personal injury cases receiving support under the NIISQ for people living with a range of injuries. Support included payments made to provide accommodation and travel, hospital services, care and support, and rehabilitation, among other services.

This page relates to serious injuries in Queensland, Australia

This information has been written for Queenslanders who are affected by a serious injury. If you suffered a road injury in Victoria and are seeking information on the TAC serious injury claim scheme and certificates, please view the TAC website for more information.

Speak to our no win no fee lawyers today at Murphy’s Law and find out more about how our personal injury legal services can help you secure the appropriate compensation for your serious injury claim. Our law firm is located in Brisbane’s inner north, and we offer a free initial consultation so you can find out where you stand with your personal injury claim.

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What is a serious injury?

Personal injury questions

A ‘serious injury’ when spoken about generally can be defined as one where a person is significantly injured to the point of suffering permanent injury or damage to a part of their body. Unfortunately, many of the serious injuries suffered in life happen at work or due to the working environment. 

The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) defines certain workplace injuries as ‘serious personal injuries’. These injuries are permanent spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, leg or limb amputation, full thickness burns to all or part of the body, inhalation burns and permanent blindness. If any of these injuries are sustained in the workplace they can be classified as serious personal injuries and the worker is then provided with necessary and reasonable care and support under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. It is possible that the injured worker can be entitled to those supports for the balance of their life.

A serious injury can happen in any number of ways, whether you are at work and machinery malfunctions, riding a motorbike, driving a car and have a motor vehicle accident, or are simply out walking and you trip and fall badly. Serious injuries suffered outside the workplace might include a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, the loss of a body part such as a finger or hand.

What are common serious injuries?

Serious injuries can impact on people in a wide range of ways and can be caused by a range of situations and occurrences. Some of the more common serious injuries include:

  • Brain injuries - This is where the brain is injured or damaged due to exposure to toxins, a head injury, asphyxiation, or another type of trauma.
  • Spinal cord injuries - A serious injury which can often result in paralysis of the body, either paraplegia or quadriplegia, depending on where the injury is sustained on the spinal cord.
  • Loss of limbs - This significant injury such as loss of an arm or leg can be caused by contact with power tools or machinery, through a car accident or road accident, through illness such as sepsis, diabetes, or other type of medical condition.
  • Loss of eyesight - Loss of sight can be caused through contact with chemicals or through industrial accidents like welding exposure or can be caused over time through illness. For serious injury entitlement, this occurs where permanent blindness occurs through trauma – i.e. something contacts the eye directly or the brain causing irreversible blindness.
  • Serious Burns – A serious full thickness burn to all or part of the body to a significant proportion of the total body surface area or both hands or face or genital area and the person’s functional ability as a result of the burn injury is significantly impaired.

Common causes of serious injuries

Serious injuries can be sustained at work, while travelling on the roads, through illness, or in any number of other ways. Some of the more common causes of serious injuries include:

  • Road and car accidents - travelling in a car is a common way to suffer a serious injury, simply due to the fact that cars often travel at speed, and you are at the mercy of other motor vehicles and road users every time you get into a vehicle. 
  • Cycling accidents - Cyclists are largely unprotected against the road save for their helmets and any protective clothing. If a cyclist is involved in an accident with a vehicle it is generally always the cyclist who comes off worse - in many cases suffering a serious injury such as a head injury or permanent injury to the body.
  • Slips and falls - These can happen to anyone, and if you slip or fall and land badly or end up doing serious damage to yourself you can bear the consequences of the fall with a permanent serious injury.
  • Falls from a height - Often the domain of workers in construction and trades, a fall from a height can result in significant physical damage and injury.
  • Mechanical entanglement - Workers in factories and on mining sites are at risk of mechanical entanglement with many serious injuries resulting from workers becoming trapped in automated machinery.
  • Chemical burns - Tradespeople, commercial operators, hospitality workers, cleaners and anyone else who is exposed to strong chemicals as part of their work are at risk of sustaining a chemical burn or inhalation burn due to contact with harmful chemicals.

Serious injuries can happen in any number of ways, and if you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, under the duty of care that your employer has to provide a safe work environment, it is critical that you seek legal advice from personal injury lawyers at the earliest possible opportunity. This is so you can ensure you receive appropriate compensation for any loss you have suffered.

Serious work injury compensation

Serious work injury compensation

A ‘serious claim’ under worker’s compensation is defined as one where the worker takes five or more days off. In 2017-18, Safe Work Australia recorded 107,335 serious claims for compensation. 

89% of serious claims were for physical injuries, with the remainder of claims relating to mental health conditions and diseases. Labourers and community and personal service workers were the most represented industries involved in making serious claims.

As we touched on above, certain workplace injuries are classified as ‘serious personal injuries’ under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 and require specific assessment and classification. Serious personal injuries are also considered ‘critical injuries’ which means that if you have suffered an injury including (but not limited to) one of the following injuries then you will have support form a WorkCover Critical Care team:

  • crush injuries involving multiple broken bones and internal organ damage
  • spinal cord injury
  • traumatic brain injury
  • full thickness burns to more than 30% of your body
  • inhalation burns causing permanent respiratory damage
  • blindness
  • loss of a limb

You may be eligible to receive support and lifetime treatment and care under the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. This care will most likely be managed for the workers compensation insurer by the NIISQ Agency and is tailored to ensure that your goals and injury needs are met alongside your personal circumstances.

Have you been injured at work and your employer was negligent? You may be eligible to claim compensation alongside your NIISQ claim. Our lawyers can help you understand how a NIISQ claim might work alongside a common law claim for compensation in a free consultation.

Permanent impairment as a result of a workplace injury

If you have suffered a serious and permanent injury, and you are assessed as being permanently impaired, then you will be eligible for a lump sum compensation payment. This payment is designed to compensate you for the loss you have suffered due to your permanent impairment.

What is permanant impairment?

Permanent impairment is when your injury stays the same over time and is not likely to improve with further rehabilitation or treatment. Your injury has also led to loss of use of a part of your body, a loss of part of your body, or a psychological or psychiatric incapacity.

[callout] Permanent impairment is when your injury stays the same over time and is not likely to improve with further rehabilitation or treatment. Your injury has also led to loss of use of a part of your body, a loss of part of your body, or a psychological or psychiatric incapacity. [endcallout]

When you are offered a lump sum compensation payment you will have a decision to make.  You can accept the offer, reject it, or seek damages for your permanent injury.

  • If your degree of impairment is assessed as being less than 20% you must either accept the lump sum amount or seek common law damages (compensation) – you cannot do both.
  • If your degree of impairment is more than 20% you can both accept the offer and seek common law damages (compensation).

While you can navigate this process yourself, having a lawyer on your side who specialises in personal injury claims can help you to achieve the best possible outcome in terms of compensation. This is because your lawyer knows how to provide and present information about your injury which best represents the actual degree of impairment you have suffered, and will provide the full picture to WorkCover when they are identifying how much compensation should be paid. Speak to our team of workers compensation lawyers today about how we can help with your personal injury compensation claim.

Serious car accident injury compensation

Car accident injury insurance icon

Car accidents can be very traumatic and can cause significant and serious injuries to those involved. If you are injured in a car accident you are covered for any injuries suffered under Compulsory Third Party (CTP insurance) which is in place to provide cover for people hurt in an accident.

  • CTP is payable as part of your vehicle’s registration, and the at-fault driver is not personally liable for the costs associated with any injuries caused.
  • What this means is that a claim can be made against an at-fault driver’s insurance, even if you are a partner, family member, friend, or otherwise injured as a result of an accident with the driver.

The National Injury Insurance Scheme, Queensland (NIISQ) was introduced in 2016 and exists to provide necessary and reasonable lifetime treatment, care and support for anyone who sustains a serious personal injury in a motor vehicle accident in Queensland, regardless of fault. This scheme provides support for persons who are eligible for support under the National Injury Insurance Scheme (Queensland) Act 2016. Support includes payment for care, treatment, hospital expenses, and any other reasonable and necessary costs associated with your injury.

Have you been injured in a car accident and the other party or driver was negligent? You may be able to make a common law claim against the at-fault party and also receive NIISQ benefits. Our lawyers can explain how this sort of claim would work in a free consultation with our legal team.

If you have been injured in a car accident and the injury is severe, it is important that you seek legal advice to ensure you receive the appropriate level of care and support for your injuries and future care.

Seeking legal advice

When you have been seriously injured it is your priority to focus on recovering from your accident or illness as best you can and coming to terms with the consequences and changes in your life associated with your injury.

Another important step to take is to get legal advice on how you can approach seeking compensation. While you may not wish to go through the process of making a claim, it is important to get legal advice early on. That way you know where you stand and can ensure you do not miss out on being able to claim under time limitations with injuries.

Getting legal advice as soon as possible can help:

  • You to understand your rights and pathways forward
  • To ensure that no time limits are missed
  • By allowing reliable evidence to be gathered to build a case
  • With gaining access to full entitlement of rehabilitation including medical specialists, physiotherapy and treating physicians.

As someone who is injured to the point of disability, you may also be eligible to make a claim under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). You can find out more about eligibility for the NDIS on their website. We can also discuss how the NDIS might play into your serious injury support network as part of your wider claim for compensation. 

Time limits for serious injury claims

Personal injury time limits

Generally, when you are injured you have three years in which to commence your claim for compensation before you are barred from claiming under laws around personal injury claims. 

However, there are some exceptions which apply that make your time limits much shorter. You should get in touch and get some legal advice as soon as you are able to ensure you do not miss out on being able to claim. Personal injury claims can also take some time to bring together and see through, due to the evidence that has to be gathered and what needs to be shown for a successful claim.

What’s the serious injury compensation claims process?

Serious injury claims process icon
  1. Contact us for free advice - Find out where you stand and what pathways are open to you by having a free chat to one of our serious injury claim experts.
  2. No obligation new client meeting - You can come to our office or we will come to you at home, hospital or a convenience location to explain the process in more detail, answer all your questions and gather more information on your accident and injuries.
  3. We will build your case - Our experts will gather evidence, submit required claim forms, arrange medical assessments and start to build a strong case.
  4. Negotiate with the insurer of the at-fault party - We will negotiate with the insurer of the at-fault party to get you the appropriate compensation amount for the loss you have suffered. At this point there will be a compulsory conference with the insurance provider where we will fight for your best interests and ensure your position is put forward in a strong and appropriate way. You may have to go through more than one settlement conference as insurers may attempt to keep the payment amount low - but rest assured we will continue to champion your position and fight for what is appropriate and fair for you.
  5. Settlement - Once a settlement is agreed then we will calculate our legal fees and provide you with the in-hand tax free settlement figure you will receive. For some claim types we are also able to negotiate to have a proportion of the legal fees paid directly by the insurer to maximise your in-hand settlement.

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