People often get hurt at work but how do you know if your injury is eligible for compensation?
The introduction of the ReturnToWork Act 2014 changed the way workplace injuries are assessed and managed in South Australia.
The following case is the first decision handed down by the SA Employment Tribunal concerning the new test for compensability of injuries under the ReturnToWork Act 2014.
The worker, Mr Ward was employed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, working as a field technician where his job involved sampling fish populations using a method known as “electrofishing”.
Last year, Mr Ward and two workmates were “electrofishing” in the River Murray when he suffered an epileptic seizure. As a result of the seizure, he lost consciousness causing him to slump over the front railing of the boat. When Mr Ward regained consciousness, he had been laid out on the boat’s deck and as he tried to stand he suffered severe pain in his left foot/ankle. He was later diagnosed with a fractured fibula and dislocated left ankle.
Mr Ward lodged a claim for compensation which was initially rejected on the basis that his employment was not a significant contributing cause of the injury.
During the Trial, the Judge raised two simple questions:
- Did the injury arise out of or in the course of the employment. The answer here is ‘yes’.
- If so, was the employment a significant contributing cause of the injury? The answer here is at the crux of the dispute.
While his employment did not cause his seizure, it did position him at the front of the boat in a standing position so that when he collapsed, his workmates had to pull him away from the railing and transfer him to a safer position on the boat’s deck. The evidence showed that it was whilst he was being transferred that he was most likely injured.
As a result, the Judge found in favour of Mr Ward on the basis there was a sufficient connection between Mr Ward’s employment and his injury to give rise to compensation under the Return to Work Act 2014.
This shows that each case needs to be considered on its merits and the first stop is a call to a lawyer to explore your options.
If you have been injured at work and would like to speak to a lawyer, contact us today on 1800 324 324 or via our contact page.