Man fails to return to teaching after developing mental health problems

Date: Mar 28, 2017

A teacher in NSW developed severe psychological problems after suffering two separate assaults from students over a three-year period. Having failed to return to employment since the last incident in 2003, the man could be entitled to make a total and permanent disability (TPD) claim.

While many people are aware that physical ailments can be considered disabilities for the purposes of a superannuation or insurance claim, it’s less well known that those with mental health issues may also be eligible.

In this case, the teacher was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and alcohol abuse following the assaults. As such, he was pursuing a workers’ compensation claim through the New South Wales District Court.

Circumstances of the assaults

The first incident took place in 2000 while the plaintiff was teaching at Jesmond High School. A student placed him in a headlock and two other students punched him several times.

As a result, the teacher took two years off work with significant anxiety and depression before returning to employment at a different school. However, after only six days of teaching on a casual basis, the plaintiff was again ‘assaulted’, although the circumstances have been disputed.

On this occasion, a student was allegedly attempting to throw a ball at another pupil but hit the plaintiff instead. The force of the impact broke the teacher’s nose and displaced a filling.

Whether the student intended to hit the teacher was argued, with the plaintiff seeking a negligence claim against the school for breach of duty of care, which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Understanding TPD claims

The teacher met with several medical practitioners in the years after the second incident and was eventually diagnosed with a whole-person impairment of 17 per cent.

His psychological disabilities mean he could be entitled to TPD cover, which is designed to provide financial support to people who are unable to return to their previous profession or any other occupation following injuries or illness.

TPD benefits are usually provided under an individual’s superannuation fund or a separate insurance policy. However, the claims process can be complex, particularly with psychological problems, as they can be tricky to diagnose and symptoms sometimes fluctuate in severity over time.

For the best chance of success when pursuing a TPD claim, you should seek the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer in NSW.

Please contact our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers if you would like to discuss TPD benefits or other claims.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.