Social worker suffers assault injury on the job

Date: Sep 07, 2018


Workers’ compensation claims often involve acts of negligence or accidents that could have been prevented. However, it’s not always clear what would happen if a worker sustains an injury because of sexual assault while on the job.

These claims are never easy. Determining who is at fault for such work-related injuries can lead to complex legal battles between employees and companies.

Background of recent case

A social worker recently claimed that she was eligible to receive workers’ compensation after being sexually assaulted at work. A medical assessor found that the woman had suffered 21 per cent whole person impairment from these events.

The company the woman was working for at the time filed an appeal against this decision. The appeal panel then found that the original assessment was accurate and that there was no error.

The woman’s employer (the plaintiff) then claimed that the appeal panel had committed jurisdictional errors in the following ways:

  1. Failing to find demonstrable error in the medical assessor’s reasoning.
  2. Failing to revoke the medical assessor’s certificate or conduct a review required by law to determine a previous injury, preexisting condition or abnormality to the woman’s impairment.
  3. Failing to perform its statutory tasks by not conducting its own review of the circumstances.

There were four defendants in the case: the injured woman, the Workers Compensation Commission of NSW, the appeal panel and the medical assessor.

The Supreme Court’s decision

The judge reviewed the submissions from both the plaintiff and the defendants. It was ruled that the appeal panel should have found demonstrable errors in the assessment. Therefore, the panel misconstrued its statutory task.

Additionally, the medical assessor failed to carry out his required statutory duty. He had answered ‘not applicable’ to the question of whether or not the woman had a preexisting condition or abnormality. The appeal panel had deemed this comment a ‘slip’.

As such, the court ordered that the two certificates and statements made by the defendants were void and of no effect. The case was referred to the Workers Compensation of NSW, and the woman was ordered to pay the plaintiff’s costs.

If you have been injured while at work, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation. Our team of experienced lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers are happy to offer free consultations in person or over the phone. Contact us today for more information.

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