A workers compensation claim has reached the NSW Court of Appeal nearly 15 years after the original accident, as the parties' insurers continue to fight over who should foot the bill for the injuries.
The woman at the centre of the case was a back seat passenger in a car that a female colleague was driving. They were employed at Liverpool Hospital and were travelling to the facility on the day of the accident in February 2003.
Her colleague's vehicle collided with a stationary car, but the claimant initially only reported strained elbows due to bracing for impact.
However, several days after the accident she allegedly began developing pain and stiffness in her neck and shoulders, which eventually required surgery.
While the woman did not pursue motor vehicle accident damages, she did receive workers compensation for her injuries.
Subsequently, the employer sought contributions from the driver's insurer, arguing that the car accident was the cause of the woman's injuries and her colleague had admitted liability.
The vehicle insurer refuted this claim, drawing upon contemporaneous medical evidence to suggest the woman was instead suffering from a pre-existing repetitive strain injury.
The trial judge ruled in favour of the employer, ordering the driver's insurer to contribute more than $200,000 towards the woman's workers compensation payments.
The driver's insurer has since appealed the decision, stating that the original judge did not adequately consider the medical evidence available.
The appellate judges agreed that the original judge erred when ruling on the cause of the accident, which led to a miscarriage in the fact-finding process.
Nevertheless, after re-evaluating doctors' reports, the Court of Appeal judges claimed the trial decision was ultimately correct and that the woman's injuries were caused by the car accident.
The vehicle insurer will therefore need to make contributions towards the woman's workers compensation payments.
It is worth noting that the appeal court decision in this case had no bearing on how much money the woman received in compensation. She was entitled to her payments regardless of the outcome.
However, she was required to attend the hearing and provide evidence on her 2003 accident, as well as the subsequent injury timeline.
As such, claimants should prepare themselves for a potentially lengthy process when applying for workers compensation. But with the right legal team in place, employees can be confident they will receive the money they deserve for their injuries.
Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today to proceed with your claim.