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4.2.2 Determining the Correct Date of Injury
The date of injury is generally determined during the Initial Liability investigation with different rules applying to injuries and diseases.
In the case of injuries or an aggravation of an injury the appropriate date is the date when the event causing the injury or aggravation occurred.
It is often not possible to establish a precise date of injury in respect of the onset of a disease or the aggravation of a disease. Often, the date of diagnosis of the disease will be considerably later than the date of first manifestation of symptoms or the date of first medical examination in respect of the condition.
Section 7(4) of the SRCA deems a date for the purposes of the Act:
7(4) For the purposes of this Act, an employee shall be taken to have sustained an injury, being a disease, or an aggravation of a disease, on the day when:
a)the employee first sought medical treatment for the disease, or aggravation, or
b)the disease or aggravation resulted in the death of the employee or first resulted in the incapacity for work, or impairment of the employee,
whichever happens first.
Accordingly, the Delegate must investigate:
- first date of medical treatment
- first date of incapacity for work
- first date of impairment, and
- date of death (where applicable),
and set the earliest of these dates as the 'Date of Injury' for a disease.
First date of medical treatment
In the DVA environment, selection of the appropriate date will depend on the nature of the condition, available medical evidence and the member's type of service.
Comprehensive medical records will generally exist in relation to members of the Permanent Forces, because of their utilisation of ADF Medical Services. Accordingly, the date of occurrence should be set as the date when the member first sought treatment for the condition, which later became the subject of the claim. This date can be established from close examination of the member's medical records, supplemented where necessary by a further report from a medical practitioner.
In the case of Reservists and cadets, or Permanent Forces members whose disease manifests after their service, the initial medical treatment for the claimed condition is likely to have been undertaken by a private or public medical practitioner. In these cases, the date of occurrence for a disease should be the date that the disease was diagnosed by a qualified medical practitioner, unless some other earlier date can be positively established on the facts. For example, the treating medical practitioner may certify that earlier undiagnosed symptoms (headaches, dizzy spells) were an early indication of the claimed condition.
First date of incapacity for work
The first date of incapacity for work can usually be established from evidence on file, e.g. sick leave records, a claim for compensation. Note that 'incapacity for work' is defined in S4(9) as being:
a)an incapacity to engage in any work, or
b)an incapacity to engage in work at the same level at which he or she was engaged by the Commonwealth or a licensed corporation in that work or any other work immediately before the injury happened.
First date of impairment
The first date of impairment can often be established from evidence on file, e.g. a medical report, a claim for compensation. See Chapter 3 for information on impairment and permanence.