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Summerfield v Motor Accident Commission [2023] SADC 84

Injured workers to receive lump sum compensation arising from multiple injuries. 

Case background


The Summerfield decision is a positive decision for workers seeking lump sum compensation as a result of multiple injuries sustained during the course of their employment. The decision particularly relates to permanent impairment assessments and the circumstances in which two or more impairments from injuries can be combined for the purpose of awarding lump sum compensation.


What injuries did the worker have?


In this case, the worker sustained a work injury to his left femur/hip requiring hip replacement surgery. The worker then subsequently suffered an injury to his lower back as a result of an altered gait which was as a result of the injury to the left hip.


What issues did the Court consider?


A major issue that the Court had to decide was whether the worker’s injury to the left hip and lower back arose from the ‘same cause’. The Supreme Court agreed with the Full Bench of the Tribunal that the impairments did arise from the ‘same cause’. 

What does this mean for injured workers?


This case is important as it establishes that two or more impairments can be combined if the worker suffers two or more injuries arising from the same trauma, and/or if the worker suffers two or more impairments that arise from the same injury or cause.


The above considerations are very important because if impairments are combined there is a greater chance that an injured worker will meet the seriously injured threshold of 35% Whole Person Impairment which entitles them to an array of benefits including income support until the retirement age and reimbursement of medical expenses on an ongoing basis (dependent on the circumstances of the matter). Furthermore, in most cases, a higher amount of lump sum compensation is now payable for permanent impairment if impairments are combined. 

What are the implications of this case?


The above case shows how important it is to see a lawyer if you have suffered multiple injuries at work.


A good workers compensation lawyer will be able to guide you through the process, provide advice and assist you to collect all the evidence you need to prove your impairments.


This can make a huge difference to any damages that you may be awarded.

If you have been injured at work, please contact us to arrange a free no obligation meeting to discuss your potential entitlements. 

Personal Injury Lawyers Adelaide





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