In a very big win by Walker Law Group in the Supreme Court for their client who sustained an injury while working for a University in Sydney.
Our client suffered a psychiatric and/or psychological injury during the course of his employment with the university. He was certified unfit for work and shortly afterwards his employment was terminated. He then commenced work for an Insurance company as an assessor.
The Workers Compensation Commission issued a certificate of determination determining that the University was to pay a weekly compensation to our client up until the time that he commenced employment with the new company.
He later was certified unfit for work duties due to the recurrence of treatment resistant major depression with anxious features. Which flared up again soon after he had returned back to work.
There was a dispute between parties as to the level of whole person impairment (“WPI”).
This case highlights the difficulties that a Medical Appeal Panel faces especially when dealing with a subsequent injury or claim and when applying facts to determinations on causation, apportionment and injury.
In this particular case, the Medical Appeal Panel made findings on causation and impairment for a subsequent injury that differed from the medical evidence presented in the case and it differed from the referral to the approved medical specialist.
Relevantly, “in other words the further injury which resulted at one university would have occurred even if our client had been in normal health, but the damage sustained was greater because it was an aggravation of the earlier injury from a different University. It is this additional damage resulting from the aggravated injury that remains causally linked to the first injury at the second University. While the University submitted that the aggravation of an earlier injury does fall within the scope of the statutory definition of injury under Section 4 of the Workers Compensation Act it does not follow that the aggravation alone results in a new injury unless the causal chain has been broken”. Also relevantly, “…this improvement (following the cessation of employment with the University, it does not constitute the required novus actus to snap the causative connection as set out intriguing”. At Paragraph 147 “in my view the appeal panel’s reasoning on causation discloses that it misapplied its statutory task and thereby constructively failed to exercise its jurisdiction. The appeal panel’s decision is vitiated by jurisdictional error”.
The decision is significant in that questions of causation in relation to subsequent events must be carefully considered by appeal panels.
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