From 1 March 2021 the Personal Injury Commission (PIC) became the ‘one-stop shop’ for dispute resolution for workers compensation and motor accident claims in NSW.
The PIC has two divisions with a single point of entry via an online portal. The PIC takes over from the Workers Compensation Commission, which has been abolished. The PIC also takes over most of the dispute resolution functions from the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) regarding motor accident claims.
The idea of the consolidation is to gain efficiencies via a single entity, especially with medical assessments and medical dispute determination. Medical assessors for both workers compensation and motor accidents claims, along with merit reviewers for motor accident matters and mediators for workers compensation matters, are appointed by the President of the PIC and operate under the PIC legislation.
The substantive law does not change.
The By Lawyers Workers Compensation and Motor Accidents publications – both Prior to 1 December 2017 and From 1 December 2017 – have all been be amended.
What the PIC does
The PIC is not a court but is headed by a President, who is a judge of a court of record. The PIC will publish its decisions.
The two divisions, Motor Accidents and Workers Compensation, have a common registry, and common practice and procedure wherever possible.
The PIC replaces the Workers Compensation Commission and determines all disputes under the Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998 and the Workers Compensation Act 1987.
Disputes in relation to claims under the Motor Accidents Injuries Act 2017 (MAIA) and the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 (MACA) previously managed and resolved by SIRA are now dealt with by the Personal Injury Commission. The PIC also takes over from the Motor Accidents Claims Assessment and Resolution Service (CARS) and the Medical Assessment Service (MAS).
The Act requires the PIC to deal with proceedings justly, quickly, cost-effectively and with as little formality as possible.
The rules of evidence do not apply and proceedings must be as informal as possible, including telephone conferences instead of formal hearings.
What the PIC does not do
Disputed common law damages claims still go to the District or Supreme Court. However, the PIC must mediate the dispute first and/or provide a certificate before proceedings can be commenced.
As it is not a court, the PIC cannot determine matters that involve federal jurisdiction. The PIC Act provides a mechanism to send proceedings that involve federal jurisdiction to the District Court.
The Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) is now known as the Independent Review Office (IRO). It continues to manage disputes regarding insurers previously managed by WIRO, with the addition of CTP insurers for motor accident claims. IRO also continues WIRO’s previous responsibility for the funding of workers compensation claims via the existing ILARS grants.
No change to the substantive law
The establishment of the PIC and the transfer to it of dispute resolution functions does not affect the underlying substantive law.
There is no change to the entitlements of injured persons to damages, benefits and entitlements under either workers compensation or motor accidents legislation.
Transitional provisions are set out in the Personal Injury Commission Regulation 2020.
For existing matters – that is, claims lodged before the commencement of the PIC on 1 March 2021 – the PIC deals with disputes and medical assessments. However it does so under the previous legislative framework – so the Workers Compensation Commission Rules 2011 and the existing provisions of the motor accidents legislation. That includes appeals, so for any arbitrated decision that was heard before 1 March 2021, but which is appealed after 1 March 2021, the appeal proceeds on the basis of the pre-existing legislation.
By Lawyers keeps you up to date!
All relevant By Lawyers publications have been updated in line with the commencement of the Personal Injury Commission. Commentary and precedents have been amended, replaced or added wherever required in our Workers Compensation, Motor Accidents and District Court publications.