The Sydney Morning Herald recently broke a story that demonstrates how serious total permanent disability claims can be, and how it affects not just the victim, but friends and family as well.
The case is especially heartbreaking considering the victim, a Sydney grandmother, was meant to receive treatment for a minor workplace injury. This included a prescription for painkillers, however it was this prescription that led to the neurological damage that will keep her away from work for the rest of her life.
The trouble started when Michelle Strickland was at her industrial workplace and she felt a sharp pain behind her eyes and in her head. After she was admitted to the hospital, doctors told her she'd had an aneurysm that went unnoticed and ruptured while she was working. Doctors then sent her home, despite Ms Strickland's complaints that something was "seriously wrong".
Two operations and several neurological problems later, a general physician told Ms Strickland that her type of aneurysm could be linked to the type of pain medication her workplace had given her after a minor strain accident.
Ms Strickland's employer contracted a doctor to give the prescription for Mobic, which experts say caused an unexpected jump in her blood pressure.
Prescription turns to TPD claim
Ms Strickland told doctors that every time she took the medicine she got a "massive headache". The doctors reportedly told her to simply stop taking the medicine until the headache went away.
When the victim's employer refused to acknowledge it had any part in the ruptured aneurysm, she and her husband filed a complaint with the NSW Workers Compensation Commission. In the end, her employer was required to pay a weekly compensation that would cover all of Ms Strickland's medical costs.
Even when her employer appealed the decision, this only reinforced the court's decision to make it pay for her medical expenses, and it may have even set a new precedent for future cases.
Experts working on the case told the Sydney Morning Herald that in the future, this ruling could apply to any form of personal injury. Anyone who suffers an injury because of the treatment they receive for a previous injury could could claim the employer was liable.
The most recent data from SafeWork Australia shows that in the 2010-2011 period, 127,355 serious worker compensation claims were filed – 12.2 per 1,000 employees.
Those who have been injured on the job may want to get in touch with TPD lawyers to determine the next course of legal action.