Whilst we’ve been talking about “serious injuries“…Earlier this year, the County Court of Victoria had announced that it proposes to implement Judicial Settlement Conferences in serious injury cases from 2012. Two pilot programmes of these judicial settlement conferences have been conducted by the Court, however with mixed results.
These conferences were (are) informal, but held in a court room with the assistance of a County Court Judge. The Judge then encourages the parties to discuss all issues pertinent to the case to see whether it can be resolved made and a decision can be (Serious Injury Certificate granted) . Early resolution of as many cases as possible would, of course, help free up the Court to hear cases that must be determined by a Judge. At the moment there is significant delay (about 12 months) in getting a date for Serious Injury Applications to be heard , and so it is hoped that these judicial settlement conferences will or would reduce these delays.
Serious Injury application cases may now be hear quicker
The County Court has recently announced that it hopes to be in a position to reduce the current lengthily 12 month (one year) wait time for cases for Serious Injury Applications to be heard.
The above initiatives – such as Judge led conferences and an increase in the number of Judges available to hear cases are expected to be introduced in 2012 and to result in earlier hearing dates being allocated to Serious Injury applications. It is now hoped that these matters will be heard within 3 months, or -at least- within 6 months of issuing.
If true, this would of course be a greatly appreciated and most positive ‘move’ by the Victorian County Court.
As you may know, the Serious Injury Application process is an extremely important and essential getaway that many injured workers must go through AND pass before they can proceed with a Common Law damages claim for pain and suffering and/or economic loss.
There are two ways in which a seriously injured worker can obtain the required “serious injury status”:
- Physical impairment assessment (workcover “independent assessor” and/or Medical Panel): this is a “scientific” test which is “objective”. However you must achieve a total body impairment percentage of 30% or more to qualify.
- The serious injury ‘test’, which involves a very difficult process to prove that your injury/injuries are ‘more serious’ than ‘the norm’; and this involves a very subjective assessment of course (both by the defense and by your lawyers and medical ‘experts’).
Read more about Serious Injuries in our post “can I claim compensation for pain and suffering”; where both above ways are described and explained in detail.