Each year, around 17,000 people in NSW end up in dispute resolution when they make a claim for compensation.
Whether it’s a claim for workers’ compensation or compulsory third party (CTP) motor vehicle accident compensation, many people experience dissatisfaction with the process when their claim is either refused or they are offered a pay-out that does not meet their expectations.
As of March 2021, all personal injury-related disputes in NSW will come before the new Personal Injury Commission (PIC) in order to simplify and streamline the dispute resolution process.
The PIC merges the dispute resolution schemes of the state’s workers’ compensation and CTP schemes. In its place, one independent tribunal will manage dispute resolution for these forms of compensation claims.
“Making a compensation claim is already stressful enough, and this new Commission will put the claimant at the centre of the dispute resolution process,” said Minister, Victor Dominello, on the passing of the legislation.
A ‘one-stop shop’ for dispute resolution
Prior to the establishment of the PIC, dispute resolution of compensation claims was handled by one of a number of bodies in NSW: the Workers Compensation Commission (WCC), the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS), Motor Accidents Claims Assessment and Resolution Service (CARS) and Motor Accidents Medical Assessment Service (MAS).
The motivation for the PIC is to replace this multitude of bodies, providing a ‘one-stop’ shop to resolve compensation disputes justly, quickly and as cost-efficiently as possible.
The new tribunal will comprise two specialist divisions to deal with workers’ compensation and motor accidents presided over by an independent judicial head (President).
Expert medical assessments are a crucial part of any claim for compensation in these sorts of cases. The Commission President can appoint medical assessors for workers compensation and motor accident matters, and merit reviewers for motor accident matters.
The new Act also enables the Commission to appoint mediators for work injury damages claims under the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.
Can you be legally represented at the new Commission?
A person making an application to the PIC is entitled to be represented by a lawyer, or by an agent (such as a union rep).
The Commission, however, may refuse to permit a party to be represented by an agent if it is of the opinion that the agent does not have sufficient authority to make binding decisions on behalf of the party.
It should be noted that for unrepresented claimants in workers’ compensation disputes, the Commission must refuse to permit an insurer to be represented by an Australian legal practitioner unless leave is granted by the Commission.
How expert legal advice can help
The PIC is also designed to provide a less formal means than taking court action to resolve compensation claim disputes. In practice, this means matters may be conducted by way of video or telephone conference between the parties, rather than a formal hearing.
The Commission has stressed that despite the streamlined process of dispute resolution, the substantive law which underpins the entitlements of injured persons to damages or other compensation or assistance has not changed, in relation to either workers’ compensation or motor vehicle accident compensation claims.
It should also be noted that if a party is not satisfied with a decision of the Commission, they may seek an appeal or review. As a result, the services of experienced compensation professionals such as Bourke Love Lawyers can prove invaluable if you are seeking resolution of a dispute, or a review of a decision, by the PIC.
We have the appropriate experience in dealing with large insurance companies and relevant government agencies, as well as advocating for clients in a forum such as the PIC.