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5.2.4 Choice of tables in Division 1 of the DRCA PI Guide
Division 1 - Impairment tables
Where there is a choice between two tables for the same impairment, the table which is most favourable to the client must be selected. This principle is drawn from the Federal Court decision in Whittaker v Comcare (1998) FCA 1099, where the same impairment from a soft tissue injury involving a joint was assessable under both table 9.2 and table 9.5.
A single injury may give rise to several or many impairments. In these cases, where the impairments alone do not meet the definition of a discrete injury, a score is determined for each impairment under the appropriate table, and then the Combined Values Chart in Chapter 14 is used to derive a combined WPI figure (CWPI) for the purposes of calculation of compensation for permanent impairment under s24 and for non-economic loss under s27.
Since the Canute decision, the situation above (single injury giving rise to several impairments) is the only situation in which a delegate should combine WPI scores. Where there are discrete injuries, including injuries arising from the original injury, they should be treated as separate injuries for all compensation purposes: they are not combined and will need to meet the 10% threshold on their own to be compensable.
The Fellowes decision also made it clear that the impairment arising from each injury must be assessed separately and in isolation, even when using a table that assesses impairment on a functional basis. If the same functional table is used to assess the impairments arising from two or more separate injuries, a separate assessment must be conducted for each injury using that table, rather than assessing the injuries together.