Bullying workers comp insurer Allianz pays the price

An injured employee had “good reason” to feel harassed by the insurers (Allianz) who managed her compensation claim, a NSW court has ruled in finding her anxiety and stress were work-related. The Workers Compensation Commission, Deputy President Bill Roche heard the worker had suffered chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, social withdrawal and depression as a result of her physical injuries and the claims process.

Bullying workers comp insurer Allianz pays the price

In 2000, the pregnant Cadbury Schweppes Pty Ltd worker fell from a chair at work, sustaining significant injuries to her spine and neck. She took several days off work, returned briefly before commencing maternity leave, and then resigned.

In the following years she remained unfit for full-time work, and was compensated for ongoing pain, suffering and permanent impairment in 2006. A 2008 claim for anxiety and depression was rejected, but an arbitrator found in the worker’s favour.

The employer appealed.

Causal chain could not have been clearer

The Workers Compensation Commission, Deputy President Bill Roche heard the worker had suffered chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, social withdrawal and depression as a result of her physical injuries and the claims process.

In 2008 Cadbury’s insurer, Allianz, sought her participation in a gym program. According to the worker, a physiotherapist forced her to do exercises beyond her ability. Some months later, she was told Allianz had footage of her exercising at the gym and believed she was fit to resume pre-injury duties.

The worker explained the exercises had been painful. Even so, Allianz contacted her doctor and requested an increase in the hours for which she was certified fit. When he refused, it warned both him and the worker they were at risk of committing fraud.

The insurer later wrote to the worker saying her doctor had agreed she was fit to resume clerical duties for 40 hours a week. Her doctor denied this, and wrote to the insurer saying she was barely fit to work 10 hours a week.

Even so, Allianz sent the worker a further injury-management plan demanding an upgrade in fitness for 40 hours a week. “Should this certificate not be presented to Allianz within 14 days the worker will be asked to appoint a new nominated treating doctor,” it said.

A psychologist said the worker felt “bullied and intimidated” by the insurance company, and suffered panic attacks and anxiety as a result.

Deputy President Roche said she had good reason to “feel frustrated and harassed and overborne by the administrative acts of the insurer”, and rejected Cadbury’s claim the psychological injury was unrelated to the physical one.

“I cannot imagine a clearer case of a psychological condition having resulted directly from the relevant physical injuries,” he said, noting that no other potential cause was suggested in the 1000 pages of evidence before him.

Cadbury Schweppes Pty Ltd v Davis [2011] NSWWCCPD 4 (31 January 2011)

 

here’s proof that Allianz are bullies!

[Post entered by TL on behalf of workcovervictim]

Shortlink: http://workcovervictimsdiary.com/?p=4388



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7 Responses to “Bullying workers comp insurer Allianz pays the price”

  1. What a “wonderful” case, I mean a wonderful conviction! It is by time that insurance companies are held liable for their inappropriate actions. I have experienced similar issues with Xchanging, may just run this case past my lawyers – thanks 😉

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  2. Extract from the Court case

    > “Ms Davis (plaintiff) spoke to Ms Reiner’s manager, Ms Rogers, and contacted WorkCover. She felt that the approach by Ms Reiner and Ms Rogers was unprofessional and constituted bullying and victimisation”.

    More extracts:

    “Following the exercise physiologist’s report, an officer from Allianz, Ms Reiner, telephoned Ms Davis, which made her angry and distressed “because of her thinking that she could intimidate me”.

    “Ms Reiner said that Allianz was aware that Ms Davis had an injury, but they did not think it was as bad as had been reported. She said that Allianz had video surveillance of Ms Davis and reports of her carrying out a number of activities. Ms Davis did not deny having carried her daughter’s school backpack over her right shoulder, using exercise equipment in the park (with no weight or resistance), and being able to walk. Ms Davis was further distressed when Ms Reiner threatened her when she said that fraud was against the law. She felt frustrated when she saw what had been reported because of the surveillance”

    Ms Davis said she felt it was unreasonable for Dr Kafataris to expect her to increase her hours of work and that it was “more of the bullying tactics” that were being directed towards her by Allianz. She felt that Ms Reiner had bullied her by sending her job seeker diaries even though she had been certified unfit

    The day after Ms Davis received the surveillance report in the mail from Allianz, she experienced two significant panic attacks and a third attack on 3 November 2008 when she listened to voicemail messages from Ms Burgess. She felt that Allianz, through its letters and “bullying telephone calls”, was sabotaging her attempt to get on with her life. She felt that Allianz was treating her unfairly, and disguising their treatment of her by talking about the Workers Compensation Act caused her distress”

    “She [plaintiff] described her experience dealing with Allianz staff as being bullied by a global organisation…”

    1. First, they make the same basic error referred to above under “psychological injury”. The worker did not suffer a “psychological injury” and her counsel did not argue that she had. It was therefore not necessary for the Arbitrator to find injury under s 4 and that employment had been a substantial contributing factor to any psychological injury. The Arbitrator erred in finding that the worker had received a psychological injury. However, applying the correct approach, the conclusion is the same. Ms Davis’s psychological condition resulted from her physical injuries. Her symptoms (from her physical and psychological conditions) resulted in her being totally unfit from 30 October 2008 to 30 April 2009 and partially unfit thereafter.
    2. Second, Ms Davis’s psychological symptoms developed in 2005, not 2008, and the evidence from Ms Marshell clearly linked those symptoms to her physical injuries and the claim for compensation for those injuries. The management of a claim for compensation is as much a part of the claim as the treatment of the injury.

    Please read the court case – we are not defaming people – these are exact extract of a publicly available published court case – http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/nsw/NSWWCCPD/2011/4.html

     

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    • Surprise, surprise, I am going through the same thing, same Dr Kafataris, in fact his first words to me were, I never believe a worker. He ignored my pain, ignored other facts, and wrote down what suited him. If anyone goes to this Dr make sure you record it, we as injured workers have rights, and it is not right that the insurance companies and these types of Dr’s think they can bully us. I bet he told the worker that she didn’t want this to go to court or through the workers compensation commission. I bet he also told her that workers compensation is going broke, cause of people like you, if you are in a wheelchair you still have to work. Well that was what he said to me. He is a parasite and doesn’t deserve to be practising medicine. Not defaming him, this is what he said, this is why insurance companies send people to him. Remember record everything.

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  3. I sincerely hope Allianz has done the right thing and sacked these people – this kind of behaviour is not acceptable!

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    workcovervictim3 February 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm
  4. Of course they didn’t.

    They have been moved on to more senior roles so that they can train the plebs to bully more injured workers.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that WorkCover NSW has turned a blind eye to this. The organisation itself is rife with low morale and bullying.

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    • You’re right, they probably got promoted and received a fat bonus too, or… thinking about it, they may have been transferred to “WorkCover NSW” for all I know. It’s is people like that who “do very well” in the workcover insurance business – unethical, immoral, heart and soulless, narcissistic, greedy psychopaths.

      Anyway, we have their names (you all have their names) – if anyone happens to be your case manager and is causing you hell, you know where to go (lawyer) AND don’t forget to take this legal case with you for further evidence!

      Makes me SICK!

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  5. Thank you for this I am with then and they are bad.just proves what I thought.

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