A NSW call-centre employee who failed to establish a link between workplace “abuse, bullying, humiliation and insults” and his debilitating psychiatric condition was refused workers’ compensation. In July 2008 the employee suffered a panic attack on a train while travelling home from work. He had a second attack two days later and has not returned to work since. He was subsequently diagnosed with a panic disorder and agoraphobia, and claimed compensation, which was denied to him!
Injured worker denied compo as unable to establish causation of mental harm
The employer refused liability. An arbitrator upheld its decision.
Onus on worker to prove causal nexus
We believe that it is outrageous that this injured person was denied workers compensation. Although we do not know all the facts and circumstances of the case and the claim, (and we’re no lawyers!) it appears to us that this man was deliberately denied workers compensation, based on one of the many tactics used by workcover insurers,which consists of inappropriately scrutinising the personal medical file of the claimant and holding anything possible (yes, even the smallest “issue”) against the claimant. In this case, they came up with “traumatic upbringing” and what-not! How convenient!
If any of you has been through a medical panel of psychiatrists for a psychiatric impairment assessment, you will surely have noticed to what length they will interview you, in the hope to find “anything else” that has caused your primary or secondary work injury related psychiatric injuries.
It is a shame that “none of the medical practitioners had documented the relationship between work and the injuries”… Again this demonstrated the uttermost importance of ensuring that you (the injured) clearly vocalise your symptoms AND relate them to their cause (e.g I had my full blown first panic attack as I left the office, however it had started in the office, during such and such… and I started having heart palpitations etc, etc”.
After too many years in the ‘workcover business’ we have certainly realised (and experienced) that many doctors and even specialists will omit critical ‘stuff’ in their written correspondence.
A workcover victim recently obtained a copy of a surgical report, and whilst he had suffered life threatening complications during surgery, for which the guy ended up on life support, the surgeon had OMITTED to even mention this in the surgical report, of which a copy went directly to the insurance company. Yeah right eh…. You can see from here how much grief this caused to the injured worker to have his intensive case hospital stay and associated accounts paid by the insurer!
Workcover victim told me also about another important and perhaps similar issue. He told me that, over the years, his work related injury has been reported by various medical practitioners, including the medical panel, as having occurred as a result of horse riding, then rock climbing, then it was a fall in the shower, then an assault. In the “assault part” he was punched once, then several times, then so hard he fell to the ground etc etc.
We can not stress the importance of:
- documenting your injuries as they occur, have them examined as they occur, photograph them (and the place where it/they occurred)
- reviewing all you medical reports (obtain copies via the FOI) and scrutinise the reports/correspondence for any mistakes, false allegations, mistakes etc and have them corrected ASAP
- should you experience bullying, harassment, abuse etc., keep a personal “diary” of each and every event, ensure you keep all “evidence” (such as emails, txt messages etc).