This edition was issued on 20 May 2021
Welcome to the latest edition of Personal Injury Commission News.
The Commission has now been open twelve weeks and we are continuing to bed down our operations, harmonise processes and engage with and respond to our stakeholders as we settle into business as usual operations.
This edition provides information about the Commission’s medical assessment arrangements, our new single teleconferencing service, updates regarding the Motor Accidents Portals and new additions to our website.
I will be in touch with another edition of Personal Injury Commission News soon.
Judge Gerard Phillips
COVID-19 Protocols for Medical Assessments Updated
The Commission’s protocols for conducting medical assessments during the pandemic have been updated in line with the current low levels of community transmission and the recent lifting of restrictions. The changes, that are effective for appointments arranged on or after 21 May 2021, include:
- All assessments can be conducted in-person
- Workers/claimants may decline in-person assessment due to coronavirus concern/risk
- Assessment by video-conference may proceed when appropriate and agreed
- Pre-screening will no longer be conducted by the Commission and masks and sanitiser will not be issued
The updated protocols harmonise the versions that existed for the former organisations, establishing a single document for medical assessors, injured people and parties involved in motor accidents and workers compensation medical assessments.
Access the updated Protocols for Medical Assessments Conducted During Pandemic here.
Note that the current arrangements for hearings, detailed in Procedural Direction PIC10 – Hearings during COVID-19, remain in place.
Addressing Motor Accidents Medical Assessment Delays
The Commission is dealing with a number of medical assessment matters that have been delayed by the suspension of in-person examinations during the pandemic. The Commission and its staff have been working proactively, diligently and methodically to address these since 1 March 2021 when we commenced operation.
As restrictions have eased, the Commission has recommenced in-person examinations and we are endeavouring to give priority to those cases that have been in the list for the longest period. We are also increasing the number of appointments with our high use specialists, to ensure injured people can have their injuries assessed as soon as possible.
I am confident that we can achieve a normal operating situation in the short to medium term.
The Commission is committed to resolving disputes as quickly and fairly as possible after they are lodged.
Single Teleconferencing Service for the Commission in Place
Since the Commission commenced, I have been focused on harmonising the legacy processes and procedures from the two former organisations.
To this end, a single teleconferencing service called Streamlined is now in place for both of the Commission’s Divisions. Following the successful adoption of Streamlined in the Workers Compensation Division, the service has been extended to the Motor Accidents Division and is being used for all forward preliminary teleconferences booked from 17 May.
Streamlined facilitates all parties into each teleconference, which eliminates the need for the Commission’s Members to contact parties as the teleconferences commence.
As the contact details used when booking teleconferences are drawn from within the Commission’s systems, please ensure that your telephone contact details are up to date.
New Motor Accidents Division Direction for Production Form available on Website
Under the Personal Injury Commission Rules 2021, a Commission Member will order the issue of a direction at the request of a party (Rule 47(1)). The parties then need to download the Direction for Production form from the Commission’s website, prepare it and upload it via the Motor Accidents Portal for the Commission to approve (in accordance with the Member’s order). The Commission will seal and issue the direction to the party (Rule 47(4)). The party requesting the direction for production must, no later than 7 days, issue the direction on the producer and the other parties (Rule 48(1)).
Reminder to Upload All Annexures to the Motor Accidents Portals as a Single Document
As I announced in Edition 11 of Towards the PIC in February, insurers and legal representatives can now upload all application annexures and reply annexures as one document, provided they are indexed and paginated.
This positive change was in response to your feedback about your experiences using the Motor Accidents Portals.
To improve the experience for all users of the dispute management system, please ensure that you only upload annexures as single, indexed and paginated documents rather than uploading all of the documents related to an application or reply individually.
Improving the Commission's Motor Accidents Portals
I remain committed to improving the experience that insurers, legal representatives, claimants and decision makers have when interacting with the Motor Accidents Portals.
The Commission is proactively addressing known issues, responding to feedback and suggestions for improvements to functionality and enhancing business processes to ensure that all parties to disputes can interact online as seamlessly as possible.
My technology team is implementing new enhancements to the Portals each month, prioritising functionality that will best improve your experiences when using the system. The latest round of enhancements scheduled for the end of this month includes bringing certain offline forms into the portals and updating templates, plus other updates that will fine-tune how the portals work. The Commission will provide further details about these changes as they are implemented.
Commission staff are also working to improve business processes that will improve the timeliness and effectiveness of the Commission’s communication with parties and ensure that you have access to the documents and application details you need, when you need them.
I’m appreciative of the feedback the Commission has received to date and am pleased that we have been able to address much of it already. I’m looking forward to continuing to improve the experience for you month on month.
Case Summaries of Presidential and Court of Appeal Decisions Available on the Website
The Commission has now added case summaries to the Resources section of the website. These summaries are designed to provide an overview of, and introduction to, the most recent Presidential and Court of Appeal decisions. Access the case summaries here.
A link to the case summaries is also provided in the weekly Legal Bulletin, which includes information about the latest Workers Compensation and Motor Accidents decisions.
If you do not currently receive the Legal Bulletin, you are welcome to subscribe here.
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