A hernia that causes significant pain to your abdomen for an extended period of time can be a major impairment to your ability to get work done, and can bring a great deal of discomfort into your everyday life. But, does this mean you can make a workers' compensation claim about your hernia, and if so, what would this process look like?
The following are a few of the questions that can guide you through the process of seeking hernia injury compensation from your employer.
One of the first questions to ask about your abdominal pain is whether a medical professional has made the official designation of a hernia. According to the New South Wales State Insurance Regulatory Authority, a doctor should use more than an ultrasound analysis to determine whether a problem is a hernia. The physician has to find a "palpable defect in the supporting structures of the abdominal wall" and a lump that is either permanent or appears when you are straining.
Being very strict about the definition of a hernia avoids mixing one up with similar issues, such as divarication of abdominal muscles. To make a case for workers' compensation, the hernia should have been caused by your employment – NSW SIRA noted there are also special classification rules when a person suffers at least two hernias at the same workplace.
If you are trying to have a claim of permanent impairment upheld, you will have already had medical intervention to fix the initial hernia. NSW SIRA indicated that in some cases, patients do suffer problems following surgery, such as a loss of sensation in nerves of the thighs – this qualifies for 1% whole person impairment in NSW, but only if it has lasts for at least 12 months. Other issues include more severe nerve damage or discomfort – these, too, must persist for a year to qualify for WPI.
The Australian Government Social Security Guide indicates there are five levels of impairment from an injury to the digestive or reproductive systems, including a hernia. The lowest of these is "no functional impact," whereas the highest is "extreme." Most workers' compensation claims for hernias will likely fall somewhere in between these poles. Determining exactly where you fall on the scale will show what kind of compensation you can expect.
If you're considering making a hernia injury compensation claim, you deserve to have an expert team on your side. Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners' workers compensation lawyers at 1800 004 878 or email your enquiry.