Under Workers Compensation Legislation, if a worker is assessed at 31% Whole Person Impairment or greater they are considered a “worker with highest needs”. This classification provides them with an entitlement to receive weekly payments at the Pre Injury Average Weekly Earnings rate, in addition to any potential income they may be earning from employment, provided they still have some level of incapacity. Therefore a worker considered in this class, can potentially be receiving significantly more money per week post injury than what they were earning prior to the injury.

However, the question has been raised by the recent case of Meat Carter Pty Ltd v Melides [2020] NSWCA 307, when does the highest rate of weekly payments start.

In this case the worker was first injured on 14 August 2014. However he wasn’t determined to be a “worker with highest needs” until 9 June 2017, following a Medical Assessment Certificate that assessed him at 60% Whole Person Impairment. The worker was then paid at the special Section 38A rate from 9 June 2017 onwards. He made a claim to the insurer, from the date of injury of 14 August 2014 up to 8 June 2017, a period of just less than 3 years, seeking for the special Section 38A rate to be paid.

The matter went on appeal to the New South Wales Court of Appeal but it was held the worker had not satisfied the definition of “worker with highest needs” until 9 June 2017, and therefore weekly payments were only payable from that date onwards and not from the date of injury.

If you have a workers compensation claim and have any questions in relation to what you are entitled to please contact Everingham Solomons because, Helping You is Our Business.

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