Driver ordered to pay Workers’ Compensation Payments

1 November 2017

An employee successfully recovered workers’ compensation payments from a driver who crashed and caused serious neck and shoulder injuries to the worker, her colleague and passenger.

The State of NSW accepted liability for the South West Sydney Local Health District booking clerk’s injuries before seeking an indemnity for all payments made to the clerk, by suing the driver’s
insurer.

The driver who ran into the back of a stationary vehicle admitted to breaching her duty of care to the worker, but denied that the worker’s long-lasting injuries resulted from the accident.

The NSW Court of Appeal rejected the driver’s argument that “the injuries were due to a pre-existing generative condition or non-crash-related work factors” and upheld District Court Judge James Curtis’ decision to award the State over $200,000.

In the current proceedings, the counsel for the driver argued that the worker did not seek medical attention for the pain in her shoulders until three months after the incident and as such, the shoulder injuries did not come from the accident itself. However, the worker told the Court that she made her supervisor aware of a stiff and sore neck and left arm immediately after the accident and as such modifications were made to her work station.

Resultantly, Justice Ronald Sackville found that “the absence of medical records on the worker’s shoulder pain until three months after the crash was not a sound basis to [reject the proceeding]” and that the complaint of pain immediately after the crash created a significant relationship between the accident and the injury.

The appeal was dismissed and the driver was ordered to pay costs.