Having liability accepted for a psychological work-related injury can be very difficult, even more so because the connection or relationship to work can be (and is often) less obvious than in workcover claims involving only physical injuries. However in the following recent legal cases, the courts accepted that there was a psychological work-related injury present.
Depending on the circumstances and the particular facts of your particular situation you may be able to claim workcover compensation if you suffer from severe stress in your workplace. However, as we have previously reported, stress claims can be -and often are- extremely challenging to prove and litigate.Set out in this article are the most frequent questions asked about workcover and stress claims.
The workcover system is, in my seriously injured opinion, designed to do one thing and that is to remove all “responsibility” from the injured worker, and alas, remove all control from the injured worker, which –all too often– leads to desperation, frustration and a myriad of secondary psychological injuries.The following somewhat controversial article aims to make injured workers think hard and show a potential way to stay in control of their claim.
Workcover stress claims can be extremely challenging to file and to litigate against. And they are getting tougher and tougher. There are many legal requirements that need to be satisfied in order to have a viable case. In order to submit a WorkCover claim for stress, it’s necessary for your legal team to demonstrate that you have suffered an ‘injury’ – at work – and within the meaning of the WorkCover legislation. This means you cannot typically claim for experiencing stress as an emotion, but rather, you are suffering from a clinical medical condition.
In September 2014, Peter Doulis, a Victorian teacher driven to the brink by unruly students including one who made a flamethrower in class has been awarded around $1.3 million in compensation by the Supreme Court, by means of suing the state government for damages under the negligence/common law. Many ‘stress’ victims were gobsmacked at the size of the amount in compensation awarded. Let’s have a look at what the $1.3 million compensation awarded really means for Mr Doulis (and anyone else in a similar situation.)
According to an article in the Age, job-related stress is a growing problem in Victorian workplaces with 58 stress compensation claims for psychological injuries being approved every week. And lets not forget all the countless rejected claims. The annual number of claims for mental disorders has risen by almost 470 in five years while the annual amount paid out in compensation has risen by 45% to $273 million
Recently, a Victorian teacher driven to the brink by unruly students including one who made a flamethrower in class has been awarded around $1.3 million, including $300,000 in general damages, $337,090 in past loss of earnings, $550,000 in damages for future economic loss and $70,000 interest on lost wages. It has been suggested that this case could open the way for other employees to sue state governments for damages under the negligence (common) law.
On our “Meet the system” page, we compiled the list of the “major” role players in the workcover system, and ranked each group by its level of indifference to the welfare and the plight of the injured worker. Workcover insurance companies and their evil defense lawyers are listed as number one enemies, followed by (most) IMEs. If you read the following disturbing legal case, you will have proof of this utter indifference and lack of humanity.
Unfortunately workplace bullying remains a reality in Australia. It is a widespread and complex issue that can have a profound and devastating effect on a worker’s health as well as on their life. Tragically, in a number of cases, workplace bullying has pushed victims to take their own life.
SafeWork Australia has released a fact sheet which covers early intervention, when a psychological injury is compensable and notification requirements, and includes links to each jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation authority and legislation.