Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere

Date: Sep 05, 2013

Whether you're hard at work in an industrial setting, taking a walk along a city footpath or working in an office, the potential for accidents is always there.

When these injuries occur at work, it can sometimes lead to total permanent disability claims or other workers' compensation packages. However, this doesn't always have to be the case.

In some instances, workers can file public liability injury claims to receive compensation for any accident that occurs on the premises of an employer.

Such was the case for one Canberra woman, who was recently awarded more than $1 million after the chair she was sitting in at work collapsed beneath her, allegedly causing serious injuries.

Terry Anne Downie was awarded the sum after she filed a complaint regarding a 2002 accident in which her chair broke beneath her while she was at work for the Community Information and Referral Service ACT.

Ms Downie reportedly laid on the ground in serious pain for 15 minutes after the accident. As the years went on, she stated that her back pain grew worse, and eventually it had turned into severe nerve damage and a condition known as permanent sciatica.

Although Ms Downie was at work when the accident occurred, the court case centered on the chair's maker, importer and retailer, who supplied the furniture and put it together for the company.

Compensation for ongoing health issues

In the complaint, Ms Downie claimed that prior to the accident, she had been an active individual who even placed third in a large triathlon in Australia.

After the accident, however, physicians testified that early treatment attempts did not improve the pain, and that tests showed a bulging disc was putting pressure on a nerve root in her lower back. The result, she claims, was relentless pain, sexual dysfunction and a tingling sensation in her legs.

ACT Supreme Court Master David Harper wrote that Ms Downie will likely have to deal with her injuries to some degree for years to come.

"She continues to suffer from depression and anxiety, and there is apparently not much room for optimism that she will ever recover from her psychological condition, although some further improvement may be expected over time," he wrote in the judgment.

"She has many years ahead of pain and depression. Her life is very different to the life she could have expected if it had not been for her injury."

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