A recent Court of Appeal decision has confirmed the long-held view that once a Serious Injury Certificate is obtained, workers can seek damages for all injuries sustained in the same compensable circumstances. This case, although unique in the facts that led to this appeal, involved a dispute as to whether a worker was entitled to claim compensation for all injuries sustained in his work accident, or whether he was confined to seeking compensation for psychiatric injuries only, as that is what his Serious Injury Certificate was specified to be granted for. After some amusing commentary on the'troublesome' Accident Compensation Act, Appeal Court Justices Robert Osborn and John Forrest and Acting Appeal Court Justice David Beach thankfully took the common sense approach. They did not believe it was the intention of the legislation that a worker only be entitled to claim compensation for one particular aspect of the injuries suffered. This would create the potential to have on-going entitlements to other statutory benefits for injuries not determined to be Serious Injuries. It would also mean that a worker could have separate serious injury applications and common law claims for every body part injured. The Court confirmed obtaining a Serious Injury Certificate is simply a gateway to be able to claim damages for all injuries suffered in compensable (negligent) circumstances.
(Georgopoulos v Silaforts Painting , VSCA 179, 08/08/2012)