Government chauffeur won workers compensation after hurting her shoulder


The following workcover claim apparently had at least one red flag that could be a tip-off for workers compensation fraud! The delay between getting the injury and lodging the claim, and as such waiting to see if the injured worker’s pain would settle down before seeking help, is apparently a big red flag.

Government chauffeur won workers compensation after hurting her shoulder

Comcare ordered to pay driver injured from lugging heavy bags

A government chauffeur has won her battle for workers’ compensation after hurting her shoulder while carrying heavy bags for former defence minister Stephen Smith while he sat in the car.

Canberra Comcare driver Lynette Prater suffered a long-term shoulder injury from lugging the eight bags two years ago, but workers’ compensation authority Comcare refused to pay.

The part-time driver had to take her fight to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to win the right to have her medical expenses and lost wages covered.

Mr Smith said he had no memory of the event but he or his staff would usually offer to help carry their bags and heavy document cases.

The then 49-year-old Comcare driver picked up the minister at Canberra’s RAAF Fairbairn airfield late on November 20, 2011.

Ms Prater’s official incident report says: ”Mr Smith came out and had two small silver cases with him. I then went to pick up the cases. They were extremely heavy and I could only manage to take one up to the car. He said he had a few more cases.

”Mr Smith put something else in the boot and then went and sat in the car, whilst I loaded the remaining cases in the boot.”

When they arrived at Parliament House, Ms Prater was left to unload the cases from the vehicle.

”Arriving at the basement, Mr Smith went and got a trolley for him to take the cases inside and left me to take them out of the boot unassisted.

”Left arm a bit tingly. I put this down to being a sore muscle.”

She told Fairfax Media she accepted the task when it became clear she was expected to lift the minister’s bags on her own.

”I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, ‘Oh well, I’m going to have to do it,”’ she said.

The driver said she hoped the severe pain in her shoulder would go away, but when she was diagnosed with a muscle tendon sprain, she wanted workers’ compensation.

Her claim was denied by Comcare, which cited the delay between getting the injury and lodging the claim.
But after hearing the evidence, the tribunal found this week there was no other likely cause for Ms Prater’s injuries and the driver had done the right thing by waiting to see if her pain would settle down before seeking help.

Comcare was ordered to reverse its decision and accept liability for the injury.



Related article

Narrow minded case managers:10 red flags of a bogus workcover claim


Revised May 2014

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4 Responses to “Government chauffeur won workers compensation after hurting her shoulder”

  1. why do people with physical injuries get treated as legit and get their claims accepted but bullying victims get their claims rejected when its known fact that bullying victims suffer far more and never recover from what it done to them!!!

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  2. Diane, many people with physical injuries are also bullied, especially by insurance agencies. Even though many physical injuries are hard to disprove, insurance case managers and their doctors will find ways to negate their impact, like saying you can work when you can’t walk or lift anything and you are in extreme pain. This can lead to psychological trauma and I don’t know any injured worker with physical injuries who does not have total empathy for those with psychological injuries. The problem lies with the insurance companies, their only reason for existing is to make a profit, so an obvious physical injury could cause them problems as it can’t be dismissed as easily. Many injured workers with physical injuries do not recover either. Bullying is insidious and disgusting, but the problem is that some insurance companies think that bullying is acceptable, that is the real problem.

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  3. I also wonder why certain lawyers are advertising for people who have been bullied in the workplace to lodge a complaint with Fair Work Australia. The Fair commission cannot award any form of financial compensation (!!!) but, allegedly, can make the bullying stop…

    Workplace lawyers in search of bullied worker cases to prosecute

    ONE week after national anti-bullying legislation came into effect, law firms have started advertising for clients who are seeking to take advantage of the Fair Work Commission’s new powers.

    Melbourne employment law specialist McDonald Murholme has launched radio ads calling for people who are bullied at work to lodge a complaint with the commission, which would compel a response from the employer within seven days.

    The legislation has been criticised by business groups concerned it will lead to companies paying “go-away money” to avoid a legal process.

    However, McDonald Murholme managing director Alan McDonald said employers should “look positively” at the changes.

    “When a person is bullied, it may cause a lot of disruption within a business.

    “When the Fair Work tribunal can become involved and at low cost help the employer and employee sort out their differences in a well-structured, professional environment, everyone can be a winner,” he said. “It will not be about paying … people to go away.”

    Charles Cameron, of workplace relations specialists FCB Group, said his firm had seen more companies seeking advice on tightening their bullying prevention policies in the lead-up to the legislative change on January 1.

    “For most organisations these days, if you wanted to comply with every single bit of law within the workplace in 2014, that’s a really tough job.”

    He said it was unusual for firms to advertise for clients seeking anti-bullying orders, as the commission could not order financial compensation.


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    • thanks for the article/link.

      people who have been bullied in the workplace best option is NOT to lodge a complaint with Fair Work Australia. there are many other appropriate avenues.

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      HuntingWorkcover January 13, 2014 at 11:33 am