Workers' Compensation Workers' Compensation

Matter Examples

Workers' Compensation

Back Injuries
  • Our lawyers acted for a self-insured employer in relation to a claim involving two incidents that both allegedly gave rise to the plaintiff’s lumbar spine injuries. The settlement negotiations were complicated. First, the client had made significant statutory payments to the claimant. Second, extensive enquiries of medical treatment providers and a subsequent independent assessment revealed that the plaintiff’s condition was, but for the alleged incidents, likely to have deteriorated to its present state in any event. As a result, the primary live quantum argument focused on the existence of any damages for future economic loss. The claim was resolved at litigated mediation. The settlement was achieved for an amount consistent with the client’s position that there would be no future economic loss. In this case, our careful and systematic collation of the evidence over the course of the claim forced the plaintiff to abandon the claim for future economic loss and a favourable outcome for our client.
Latent onset injury
  • Our lawyers acted for a self-insured employer in relation to a statutory claim for lung cancer allegedly linked to asbestos exposure. If accepted, the self-insurer would have had to make a lump sum statutory payment in excess of $600,000. The evidence was carefully collated, including multiple clarifications from the specialist. This medical evidence indicated that there were three possible grounds on which the claim could be dismissed at first instance. Ultimately, the Workers’ Compensation Regulator upheld the employer’s decision that the worker had not sustained an ‘injury’ because smoking rather than asbestos exposure was the significant contributing factor that caused the condition.
  • Our lawyers acted in a case where a worker who suffered from mesothelioma had successfully obtained a significant lump workers’ compensation payment from our self-insured client. Recovery proceedings were commenced in the District Court of New South Wales against another former employer of the worker, and the claim was resolved on favourable terms at mediation with the client recovering a substantial proportion of the compensation it paid the worker.
Minor injuries
  • We have resolved a number of claims for minor injuries between one and six months of our clients’ receiving a Notice of Claim. This involves making an early offer with the worker notified, whereby the early offer will replicate the insurer's written final offer at the conclusion of the pre-proceedings process. This has led to claims being resolved promptly, meaning not only the length of the claim, but the legal spend for the self-insured employer, was reduced.
Psychiatric Injury
  • We acted for an employer in a case involving a worker who alleged that he had sustained a psychiatric injury arising from an investigation in relation to a safety incident. Previously, the worker had also referred to numerous prior stressors involving bullying. By carefully assembling the psychiatric evidence to reflect (as was the case) that the worker’s stressors were confined to the investigation outcome, we demonstrated that the liability case was weak because an employer does not owe a duty of care to a worker in relation to an investigation of this nature. The claim was revolved at the pre-proceeding compulsory conference, and a minimal commercial settlement was achieved.
  • Our lawyers acted for an employer in a case involving workplace bullying. In order to defend the claim, evidence was assembled that showed the actions of the individual involved in the bullying activities (who was terminated by our client following the incident) were outside the scope of his employment, contrary to training the employer had provided to the individual and that the employer had taken decisive action once it was aware of the bullying activities. This enabled a robust approach to defend the claim on the basis that the client had no vicarious liability for the actions of the individual who bullied the claimant. After the pre-proceedings process, the claimant elected not to pursue her claim further. This case has been one of many where we have used a similar approach to achieve a ‘walk-away’ result for our client.
Serious physical injury
  • After reviewing the (then current) statutory claim of an injured 35-year-old who fell from scaffolding suffering serious injuries, our lawyers identified a way to achieve an efficient and cost-effective resolution to the inevitable common law claim. At the conclusion of the statutory claim, informal negotiations were commenced. This enabled the damages claim to be resolved before embarking on the pre-proceedings process. In this case, the issues of liability and quantum were straightforward. As a result, following the normal lengthy pre-proceeding process would have delayed the claim, as well as interfered with the return-to-work outcomes and incurred significant additional legal costs for both parties. Instead, a mutually beneficial outcome was achieved and the worker was able to return to his pre-injury role with the self-insured employer.
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