27 July 2023

Psychological injury at work due to bullying results in Lump Sum, Work Injury Damages and Total and Permanent Disability claims

At the time of the accident, our client enjoyed playing netball and spending time with friends and family, including her two children.  Our client suffered from bullying from management as well as trauma from abusive clients.  Though she requested assistance from management, none was ever granted.  As a result, our client suffered from severe anxiety, major depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  She saw her treating doctor and lodged a Workers Compensation claim with her employer. 

Our client had been told she would not be able to return to work and sought the assistance of our expert personal injury lawyers with respect to her Workers Compensation claim.  We discussed the option of lodging a permanent impairment lump sum claim under section 66 of the Workers Compensation Act, which requires the injured worker to have a minimum impairment of 15% Whole Person Impairment (WPI).

Expert opinion reports on our client’s psychological injuries were obtained and our Independent Medical Examiner assessed her with a combined impairment greater than 15%.  An application for lump sum compensation benefits was lodged for our client which the insurer disputed as their experts believed our client’s injuries were in remission.

We lodged an application to Resolve a Dispute with the Personal Injury Commission and a Medical Assessment Certificate was requested by the Commission.  Our client was assessed at greater than 20% Whole Person Impairment by the Personal Injury Commission.  As the insurer did not appeal this decision, a Certificate of Determination with orders confirming our client was entitled to lump sum compensation was issued and our client was awarded a sum more than $57,000.00.

We advised our client about lodging a claim for Work Injury Damages, also known as a common law claim.  Reports from suitably qualified experts were obtained regarding our client’s work environment and the cause of her psychiatric injuries.

A mediation was organised with the insurer, where we provided the relevant expert opinion reports on liability, investigators statements, medical evidence, and income loss documents.  Ultimately the insurer made an offer of more than $450,000.00 and our client was happy to accept the offer to resolve her claim.

As our client was told she would not be able to return to work, we discussed with her a Total and Permanent Disability claim with her superannuation fund in addition to her Work Injury claims.

Total and Permanent Disability insurance is a benefit often provided in life-insurance policies as well as within superannuation plans.  Our lawyers reviewed the superannuation policy definitions and noted our client was eligible to lodge a Total and Permanent Disability claim. 

The relevant information in support of her Total and Permanent Disability claim was compiled, and a claim was lodged with the superannuation fund.  The superannuation insurer reviewed the documents supplied for our client’s TPD claim and the claim was approved.  Our client was awarded more than $214,000 in settlement. Thus, bringing a total compensation amount of more than $720,000 awarded in her claims.

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