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.
here’s proof that Allianz are bullies!
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