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3.6.4 Serious and permanent impairment

subsection 32(1) of MRCA provides that liability must not be accepted for an injury or disease if it resulted from the person's serious default or wilful act, a serious breach of discipline, an occurrence that happened while committing a serious breach of discipline or an intentionally self-inflicted injury or disease except if the injury or disease results in serious and permanent impairment.

Whether an impairment is 'serious and permanent' for the purposes of subsection 32(1) of the MRCA is a matter of fact to be decided in the individual circumstances of each case. Two general observations may, however, be helpful:

  • subsection 32(1) is directed to 'impairment' and not to 'incapacity for work'.  Delegates should ensure that the evidence addresses impairment rather than incapacity for work although the impact on the person's occupation may be relevant when considering if the impairment is 'serious';
  • the phrase 'serious and permanent impairment' is conjunctive, i.e. there must be both serious and permanent impairment.  Accordingly, the exclusions under subsection 32(1) will continue to apply where the evidence clearly shows that the impairment is expected to be temporary.  Liability may have to be reviewed if the initial prognosis proves to be incorrect.