A woman seeking workers compensation for permanent disabilities from an employment-related injury now faces delays in her claim after a catalogue of errors during the medical assessment process.
The employee suffered an injury to her right arm due to an incident involving an air-conditioning unit in her work area.
Following the accident, she ceased working for her employer and was made redundant in December 2006. The plaintiff subsequently said the injury to her right arm was giving her problems in both left and right shoulders.
Her employer did not challenge the woman's symptoms and paid expenses for treatments and surgeries to her shoulders. She was also awarded $2,500 under a complying agreement after making a lump sum compensation claim for permanent impairment.
A second workers compensation claim
Under the original complying agreement, the woman can make multiple claims if her injuries become worse or lead to further ailments.
The plaintiff is now seeking further compensation nine years after the initial incident because she alleges her injuries are more debilitating.
Current legislation means the plaintiff can only receive additional benefits if her injuries constitute a whole person impairment (WPI) of more than 10 per cent.
The plaintiff submitted a professional medical report that said she had a total WPI of 27 per cent.
However, her employer rejected her claim for further compensation and asked the woman to attend a second approved medical specialist (AMS), who ruled her WPI at just 1 per cent.
Parties seek medical dispute solution
The woman sought an application to resolve the dispute through the Workers Compensation Commission of New South Wales, leading to the matter being sent for reassessment to a third medical practitioner.
This professional also diagnosed a WPI of 1 per cent, claiming that the subsequent injuries the plaintiff had developed were not caused by the original workplace accident.
The woman appealed the decision, but the Medical Appeal Panel of the Commission confirmed the assessment.
Nevertheless, the plaintiff argued that the decisions of the appeal panel and the final AMS should be set aside because they incorrectly included causation as a factor.
Both the plaintiff and the employer had agreed that what led to the injuries was not a matter that the AMS should give judgement upon. Instead, the professional was supposed to calculate the level of the woman's permanent impairment, disregarding other factors.
The Supreme Court agreed, setting aside a medical certificate that the AMS had provided and remitting the matter back to commission.
Plaintiff's plight continues
The plaintiff will now have another chance at obtaining workers compensation for her permanent impairment.
However, the woman's experiences show the complexity of some workers compensation cases in NSW, which is why determined and experienced personal injury lawyers are essential.
Please contact a member of our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for more information on how we can help you.