WorkCover Claim Case Study

Circumstances of the accident

  • The worker was employed as an order picker/store-person
    • their tasks include, but are not exclusive to: picking and packing orders from the warehouse/storage and ready pallets to be delivered to various supermarkets using various equipment
    • the process involved putting the goods onto wooden pallets which are moved from one section to another of the warehouse byway of conveyor belt
    • unfortunately pallet was not in working order despite previous problems and reports of issues but no fix nor repairs – therefore it was defective
  • worker put the pallet and lever in correct position to attempted to move the lever with his right arm
  • this movement/action caused an injury to his right shoulder, also commonly known to be a Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial Plexus Injury (shoulder):

The Brachial Plexus: is composed of cervical nerve roots (in the neck region) – these mainly are distributed throughout the upper limbs (i.e. arms) and control sensations and movement of shoulders, chest, and upper limbs

In terms of the injury, there are various ways they can occur – from stress, pressure, or being stretched too far. Oftentimes, a injury to the brachial plexus area cut off parts of, or all, communication between the hand, wrist, or arm, and spinal cord. This may mean that there can be up to a total loss of sensation and use of your hand or arm.

Secondary Injury

Unfortunately during the course of the explorative surgery to repair the brachial plexus injury, the worker experienced a minor stroke which affected the whole right-side of the worker’s body.

The worker therefore loss the use of their right-side of their body in addition to having issues with speech.

Permanent Impairment

In the case of the worker, a permanent impairment percentage of over 20% was given in relation to the worker’s injury after assessment by an occupational physician . Moreover, there was an acceptance of psychological injury sustained by the worker as a result of the intraoperative accident.

What this means is that not only can they accept a lump sum compensation, but they are able to pursue a common law claim for damages.

When a degree of impairment is given (DPI) to an injured worker, and the percentage is much less than 20%, the options are: to accept the lump sum offer and not be entitled to making a common law claim, or not accepting the lump sum offer and pursuing a common law claim.

With this matter, the worker decided to decline the lump sum offer and pursued a common law claim.

The worker was successful in pursuing a common law claim, and received a global sum of just over $1.2M.