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Workers Compensation?

By little_spark - 14 February 2010 24

A good friend of mine works for a government department here in Canberra which deals with people face to face daily.

Recently, she was involved in a nasty incident in the workplace. An object was thrown at her by a disgruntled member of the public, resulting in  a trip to the hospital, a tetanus shot and 6 stitches to her face.

The workplace has now upped security by placing glass around the work station meaning objects can no longer be thrown and she, along with other work collegues recieved counselling, but is this enough?

She isn’t sure if she would be entitled to anything (workers compensation?) and I don’t know where to send her. Legal Aid are unable to provide advice for this matter.

Can anybody offer any kind of advice? Anything would be appreciated.


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24 Responses to
Workers Compensation?
Piratemonkey 6:59 pm 15 Feb 10

Oh on the no win no pay lawyer front, you can usually go see them no worries but the second you sign something they own you.

Reading their paperwork I started to think I would need another lawyer just to make sure they wouldn’t screw me.

Piratemonkey 6:55 pm 15 Feb 10

Be careful with those no win no pay type lawyers. Under some circumstances they can make you pay mega dollars.

I have been in a situation like this one and honestly if the workplace is that bad her best bet is to aim for paid stress leave and use that time to find another job in a different field.

I did similar. It is possible i would have got a huge payout but being stuck between lawyers and doctors for months if not years on end, is much worse then the incident.

As has been said tho, do not go anywhere near work without seeing a shrink and lawyer first. Even if she has gone back, pull sick days until advice from both has been gathered.

My final tip is take the shrinks advice over the lawyer. While the idea of a few hundred grand payout sounds nice, those who get it usually spend many years of their life in misery for it.

Oh and forget the employers HR. No matter how nice they are, their job is to limit the impact of the incident on the employer not you. If they get the chance they will screw her over.

NeedHelp 6:08 pm 15 Feb 10

AAhh, thanks little_spark. Similar thing happened to someone last week, but the guy slammed his fist on the desk, and one of those bell ringer things flew into the receptionists face and she ended up in hospital. Gosh there’s some awful people out there.

Your friend needs good legal advice and plenty of medical evidence/reports. Document everything.

little_spark 5:21 pm 15 Feb 10

Hrm… I doubt it would be the same one Needhelp, she’s in Sydney.

I have told her to speak to her HR section first, try to get some Union details and to contact a ‘no win no fee’ solicitor. Hopefully this helps her.

I’m not sure if he’s been charged, she seems to think so but doesn’t know much about these sorts of things.

Thanks for all your advice.

Hazza 5:20 pm 15 Feb 10

Workers comp in Act and Federal gov departments is handled by another gov department; Comcare. Follow Linky

Dont call a lawyer, unless of course, you want to end up in court.

Dont call a union, i dont think they have a handle on reality.

sloppery 9:59 am 15 Feb 10

I hope the government department in question has called the police and pressed charges against the person who did this.

grunge_hippy 9:58 am 15 Feb 10

call the union (if she is in one) that’s what everyone does where i work.

Katietonia 9:51 am 15 Feb 10

Is she seeking compensation from work or is she going to sue the culprit? Was he charged with assault? Were the police called and was a report made? This is really important as she could seek compensation as a victim of crime.

Work should definitely cover her for mental stress caused by the incident, even if she has to go off on stress leave or get further counselling, she needs to seek advice from her doctor if this is the case and talk to HR about the procedure for doing so.

Hope she will be OK!

I have never heard of anyone seeking compensation for scarring (physical) however we have been lucky enough not to have any such incident in my workplace. You’d think that the workplace would be liable as she was at work, and it could be argued that not having the glass in place was an OH&S risk for her job.

NeedHelp 9:40 am 15 Feb 10

I wonder if this is the incident I heard about last week. If so, I’m very surprised that given the nature of the business where she works, they haven’t provided her with legal advice. I heard the culprit slammed an item on the desk, and it then hit her in the face, but that could be Chinese whispers I suppose. Dunno. I hope she recovers.

She just needs to call a solicitor. First consultation is usually free in many cases, and they will be able to point her in the right direction.

little_spark 9:34 am 15 Feb 10


Yes, the workplace has paid for everything so far. Although, there were next to no costs as she had private health insurance which picked up almost everything I think.

No on-going medical issues, she’s a healthy young woman who has mentally taken a beating from her position for the last little while and has pretty much had enough. This has really scarred her.

Permenant scarring would be determined once it heals… I also didn’t mention that she has lost feeling in part of her forehead (the object hit her face at such force that it bounced about a meter off it) so I guess it could be permenant if the feeling didn’t come back.

I think I will get her in to see one of those ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers just for some advice straight up. She’s thinking of quitting her job now because of all this.

johnboy 7:49 am 15 Feb 10

And permanent scarring?

taninaus 6:50 am 15 Feb 10

She would be entitled to workers compensation for the costs involved for the medical treatment she received and any follow up medical treatment. Did she fill in an accident/incident form? if so she can use that as the basis. She needs to talk to her HR/Injury area in personnel as there are forms to make claims for costs to comcare which is what she needs to do. But, given she had treatment at, I presume, the public hospital she isn’t out of pocket – but if she took days off on personal/sick leave she can get those reiumbursed.

Felix the Cat 4:19 am 15 Feb 10

Presumably the government department paid for the hospital treatment and the person was paid for any time off related to the incident?

ebony57 10:15 pm 14 Feb 10

First of all, I think it is absolutely disgusting that your friend has been through what she has, and wish her all the best.

If your friend received treatment at hospital for her injuries, then the government dept. your friend works for should have completed an incident notification. Did the workplace pay for her medical treatment as well as provide counselling? If so, this can be seen as being a form of compensation.

Apologies for the all the questions, but does she have ongoing medical issues? A “workers compensation” claim isn’t always a given, nor does it automatically mean a tv-style lump sum payout. If she requires ongoing medical treatment/support, then by all means she may indeed be entitled to some additional form of ongoing compensation/treatment. If she had any time off work for her injuries/after the incident, then I think there should already be a compensation claim in place.

I guess it depends on what you mean my workers compensation. Your friend should be approaching her OHS/case management team to discuss her options/ongoing issues, or she could perhaps even contact Comcare to seek some advice. If she’s not comfortable in doing that, then perhaps she could approach her GP to discuss her ongoing issues.

Going down a path of seeking legal intervention, however, would be premature if she has not gone through all appropriate avenues first, and it doesn’t sound as if her workplace has refused to provide support (though I could be wrong here – understandably, there is not a lot of detail in the original post)

astrojax 10:09 pm 14 Feb 10

tell her to ring the legal section of her department – i’m sure someone there will steer her in the right direction (or call one of those ‘no win, no pay’ law firms and get a read on whether there is something to pursue, then go see some real solicitors…)

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