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Workers Compensation Claims: Notice of Assessment and The 20 Business Day Rule

Workers Compensation Claims: Notice of Assessment and The 20 Business Day Rule

Article by Personal Injury Lawyer Sam Stewart

December, 2023

In Queensland, when someone is injured at work and they meet the criteria to make a claim to WorkCover Qld. WorkCover will send out a Notice of Assessment and ask them to respond within 20 business days. This notice will be sent once their injuries stabilise and reach the maximum level of improvement.

At this point in time, it is very important that people obtain legal advice from an experienced personal injuries lawyer as soon as possible.

What is a Notice of Assessment?  

Work Cover Statutory Claim:

In a situation where a person suffers an injury at work, they need to meet two basic criteria to be eligible for a WorkCover Statutory Claim:

  • The injured person is a Worker
  • The injured person has suffered an Injury

Successful WorkCover statutory claims allow injured workers to:

  • Receive weekly benefits if they are off work.
  • Have medical and rehabilitation expenses covered.
  • Retrain or upskill into another occupation more suitable for their current physical/ psychological state, and
  • Rehabilitate and return to work when they are medically cleared by their treating doctors.

When an injured person reaches the point of maximum medical improvement or is stable and stationary (ie. when an injured person’s injury has reached the maximum level of improvement) WorkCover will look to finalise an injured worker’s claim. At this point, WorkCover will normally send the injured person to a specialist doctor to complete a permanent impairment assessment.

Notice of Assessment

To finalise the statutory claim, WorkCover will provide the injured worker with a Notice of Assessment which contains the permanent impairment assessment. In the Notice of Assessment, WorkCover will also offer the injured worker a lump sum amount to finalise the claim.

The permanent impairment assessment in the Notice will determine an injured person’s lump sum amount through a whole person impairment percentage.

The Notice of Assessment makes it clear the injured worker can either:

  • Accept the Payment - If they do this, they will be unable to pursue a common law claim in the future.


  • Reject the Payment - If they do this, it is usually so they can pursue a Common Law Claim.


  • Ask for a Second Opinion from another Doctor - In the hope that it will render a higher whole-person impairment percentage. (There is a risk this will be less than the earlier percentage.)

The Notice of Assessment asks the injured worker to make an election to Accept, Reject or ask for a second opinion, sign the Notice, and return it to WorkCover Qld, within 20 business days.

What happens if I don’t sign my Notice of Assessment within 20 business days?

The wording on the Notice of Assessment, if not read very carefully, would lead an injured worker to think they must do something within 20 business days. However, that is not the case.

An injured worker should not be thinking they must accept the lump sum payment quickly.

An injured worker does not have to accept or reject the offer within 20 business days. If they do not accept or reject the offer within 20 business days, their decision is deemed to be deferred. This means they can accept or reject the lump sum at a later stage.

However, if an injured worker wants a second opinion from another doctor (including a doctor of their choice) they must make that election within 20 business days.

Example Extract from a Notice of Assessment

Below is an example extract from the standard WorkCover Qld, Notice of Assessment:

You need to make a decision about the offer of lump sum compensation within 20 business days. As you have been assessed as having an injury with a DPI of less than 20%, you must make a choice between accepting the offer and seeking damages for your injury.

If you do not wish to make your irrevocable election at this time, you can defer the offer so you can accept it at a later date provided you have not sought damages for the injury in the meantime. If you do not make a decision, you are considered to have agreed with the DPI and deferred your offer.

On the face of it, these two paragraphs are confusing.

If you are an injured worker who has received a Notice of Assessment, do not feel pressed to accept or reject the offer within 20 business days. You do actually have time to consider it carefully.

This is a critical time to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Get Expert Legal Advice

You should obtain advice as soon as you receive the Notice of Assessment.

You should seek specific advice about:

  1. Whether you may have a successful common law claim where you seek damages for your injury.


  1. Whether seeking a second opinion from another doctor within the 20 business days is a good option for you. Note: If you don’t have good prospects of pursuing a common law claim, you might be able to get a higher percentage impairment and therefore a higher lump sum offer.

If we have seen a client early after a work injury (which is ideal) we will have given them clear advice about what to do when they receive a notice of assessment.

Sometimes we are contacted by people who have recently received a notice of assessment. We always recommend that people seek legal advice in these circumstances.

The Notice of Assessment is a significant document that usually gives an injured worker the right to pursue a common law claim for damages. When you receive a notice of assessment, you should be getting some legal advice about your prospects of being able to successfully pursue a common law claim for damages which may be a lot more than the lump sum offer that is made in the notice of assessment (based on your level of impairment).


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