Have you been injured
travelling to or from work

If you are injured while travelling between home and your “place of employment”, you may be covered by workers compensation. This is often referred to as a “journey claim”.

What is a Journey Claim?

A “journey claim” applies when a worker has finished work or is not performing any work at the time. It applies to journeys such as travelling to the workplace before work starts, or home after work has finished for the day, just as much as it does to a journey during working hours. A journey claim can be made regardless of how you are travelling, including walking, public transport, work vehicle, private vehicle, or cab.

So what if you stop off on your journey to visit a friend, collect kids from daycare, or to buy some bread and milk? Does workers compensation still apply? Well, it depends…

In certain situations, an injury may not be considered a “journey claim” if the injury happens during or after a substantial interruption or deviation from the journey. In deciding whether there is a “substantial interruption or deviation”, the court will consider the reason, the actual time of the interruption, and the distance travelled for this deviation.

In the matter of Faelmann v Workers’ Compensation Regulator, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission found that a 3.2 kilometre deviation and an additional 50 minutes to collect a spray gun from a friend on the way home from work was not a “substantial interruption or deviation”. As a result, the worker’s compensation claim was allowed.

An example of a deviation that would be considered a “substantial interruption or deviation” is if you stopped to watch a movie for 2 hours on your journey home from work. A worker’s compensation claim would not usually be accepted in those circumstances.

What do I do if I get injured on the way to or from work?

If you are injured on your way to or from work, it is important to do 3 things:

  1. Report your injury to your employer immediately.
  2. Visit a qualified medical practitioner as soon as possible.
  3. Seek advice from a compensation lawyer.

Our compensation team can assist you with every step of the compensation process after a work accident.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you require assistance.

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Workers Compensation
lump sum offers

When a person is injured at work, an important stage of the injury compensation process is to be assessed by a relevant medical specialist for permanent impairment.

What is permanent impairment?

A permanent impairment is impairment from an injury resulting in loss of efficient use of a part of the body, or loss of part of the body.

The assessment by the medical specialist is conducted according to legislated medical guidelines, and will consider:

  • whether the condition has reached maximum medical improvement;
  • whether the injury has resulted in an impairment;
  • whether that impairment is permanent;
  • whether that degree of permanent impairment results from the injury; and
  • whether any proportion of that permanent impairment is due to any pre-existing injury, condition or abnormality.

The assessing doctor will lodge a report of their assessment to Workers Compensation.  Based on this report, Workers Compensation will issue what is known as a ‘Notice of Assessment’.  For instance, a worker who has injured their back lifting heavy boxes at work may be assessed with a 4% permanent impairment.  This percentage is then used by Workers Compensation to calculate an offer of lump sum compensation to the worker.

Lump Sum Compensation

An injured worker should seek legal advice before accepting any lump sum compensation offer to discuss the range of options available to them.

For the vast majority of workers, accepting a lump sum eliminates their entitlement to a common law claim.  The lump sum offered may not be adequate compensation for the injured worker’s needs.

Important time limits will also apply to an offer.  There is also a threshold to be met if the injury occurred between a specific date range.

If you or someone you know has been injured at work, we strongly recommend speaking with a compensation lawyer prior to accepting any lump sum offer.  Our compensation team can assist you with every step of the process involved after being injured at work.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.

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Road Fatalities and
Dependency Claims

Earlier this year, fatalities and crash statistics from the past three decades in Australia were released by the Australian Road Death Database. The figures showed that 48,592 people have died on Australian roads since 1989.

What is most surprising about this figure is that:

  • 43% of those deceased were not driving at the time of the accident, but were either pedestrians, passengers, or cyclists;
  • Nearly 1 in 10 motor vehicle accidents kill more than one person;
  • Risk factors include fatigue, speed, inexperience, and drug and/or alcohol intoxication;
  • The most common age to be killed on the road is 18;
  • Motorbike riders are most at risk of a fatality on weekend afternoons; and
  • Most road deaths involve just one vehicle.

Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld)

Queensland laws provide rights and protections for survivors of a person who has been killed in a motor vehicle accident. A claim is possible where the deceased person was not to blame for the circumstances of the accident. For instance, a spouse and children are entitled to bring a claim where they can show they have been deprived of an economic benefit provided by the deceased person. These family relationships can become quite complex if there are step children or ex partners who were also financially dependent on the deceased person, eg. by way of spousal maintenance or child support.

The Civil Liability Act 2003 (Qld) also provides for an award of damages for the loss of services provided by the deceased to their dependents, such as personal care and assistance, domestic duties, yard and home maintenance. Only one action can be brought on behalf of all dependents. If there are multiple dependents, any compensation monies must be apportioned between all parties.

Strict time limitations apply to dependency claims. Dependents will also need to comply with important pre-court procedures contained in the relevant legislation.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by an accident that is not their fault, we strongly recommend seeking advice from a compensation lawyer. Our compensation team can assist you with every step of the compensation process after a motor vehicle accident. Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.

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Workplace Safety
– is your workplace risky?

A recent analysis of SafeWork Australia data has found that workers in agriculture, forestry, and fishing are most at risk of being injured at work.  Those in transport, stores and warehousing, construction, and mining were close behind when it came to being injured at work due to a lack of workplace safety.

This study is a timely reminder for workers and employers alike to consider their risks and requirements when it comes to workplace safety.

Employers bear significant responsibilities when it comes to workplace health and safety, and generally these responsibilities cannot be delegated (that is, passed on).

Common Expectations of Employers:

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) contains a number of common expectations of employers to:

  • Provide a safe workplace;
  • Implement and maintain a safe system of work;
  • Provide safe and proper plant (ie factory, mill, workshop, yard) and equipment;
  • Provide adequate and proper instruction, training and supervision;
  • Perform adequate and proper risk assessments of the workplace and work systems.

Incident Reporting

Each workplace must have a system of reporting incidents and injuries, and every worker should be aware of this process. Having all workers undergo induction at the beginning of employment, and refresher training throughout their employment, maintains a consistent standard of knowledge and understanding about workplace safety. Whether this training was provided will be a vital part of any investigation into a workplace incident. Workers who are unsure of the incident reporting process in their workplace should seek clarification from their employer.

There are many ways for employers to manage common hazards and risks in the workplace. With advances in technology and upgrades to equipment, it may be that the hazards and risks change over time. Therefore it is important to recognize that each workplace is different so a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not recommended.

If you would like more information about the workplace health and safety obligations that apply to your workplace please contact our office on 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

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Risks of Work
Related Violence

According to recent work health and safety data, violent incidents in the workplace are increasing.  “Work related violence” is any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.  These behaviours create a risk of health and safety to workers.  Workers can be exposed to work related violence from clients, patients and members of the public.

The most common industries to have work related violence incidents are health, aged care, disability services, youth services, law enforcement, hospitality and finance.  Yet it can happen to anyone.

Work Health and Safety

Work health and safety laws in Queensland are designed to ensure the health and safety of workers and others in the workplace.  ‘Health’ includes physical and psychological health.  A person who conducts a business or undertaking (“PCBU”) has a primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their workers and others in the workplace.  They must provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a safe and healthy working environment and they must consult with their workers about health and safety issues.

Work related violence, particularly in these industries, is a consideration for employers when identifying and assessing hazards and risks.  Employers need to provide information, instructions, training and supervision to their workers to enable them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to their health.

What is considered a reasonable response to a violent incident will vary depending on the nature and severity of the incident.  Employers should consider implementing a policy that lets workers know what to do at the time of, and immediately after an incident.

If you have any questions in relation to workplace injuries and workplace safety please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.

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Keyboard with social media icons

Social Media Posts:
Users Beware

More than ever before, individuals are using a range of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn. The amount of content posted to social media by the public is unprecedented.  Likewise, lawyers have seen an increase in the number of cases involving social media. As technology develops and evolves, so too does the law when it comes to the use of social media.

Did you know, the Courts can serve documents through social media?

In recent times, social media platforms have also been recognised by the Courts as a means of serving a party with court documents.

Social media terms and conditions

Most people do not realise that by creating a social media account, they are entering into a contractual relationship with the platform provider.  By agreeing to “Terms of Use” the user grants the platform licence to use content that they share. This means the user loses exclusive control of their photographs, comments, and opinions.

Users of social media must also accept that their digital footprint is forever, and can be used to trace their location, retrieve information, and provide evidence of alleged facts in legal matters. These platforms can open up a legal can of worms including defamation, bullying, harassment, and so on.

What you post can be used in Court

In addition, what an individual posts can often seriously damage their credibility and damage their case. For instance, it will be difficult to convince a party that your ankle injury has not resolved if you are posting Instagram pictures of bungy-jumping on holiday in Bali. Similarly, rants about an ex partner on Facebook may cause serious problems in a family law dispute.

As a general rule, remember social media is not an appropriate means of sharing sensitive or valuable content.

If you have any questions in relation to the use
of social media please contact our office.

(07) 4963 2000
ONLINE ENQUIRY
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Wet Weather: Duty of
care owed by occupiers

With the wet season upon us, it is important to remember the duty of care owed by occupiers to patrons and visitors of their premises. In Sutherland Shire Council v Safar [2017] NSWCA 203 the Court of Appeal recently upheld a decision finding an occupier responsible for a patron’s slip and fall.

In this case, the injured person was attending a dance eisteddfod at an entertainment centre when she slipped on a wet floor adjacent to the foyer. The local Council owned and occupied the premises. It was a rainy day and water had accumulated on the foyer floor from umbrellas and other patrons entering the building from the rain. There had also been other previous incidents of patrons slipping on the same floor when it was wet.

The Court found that the Council was or should have been aware of the presence of water on the floor, and that it ought to have taken steps to eliminate or reduce the risks of slipping. On this basis, the Court agreed that it was reasonably foreseeable that a patron could slip and fall on the wet floor.

In assessing what reasonable precautions the occupiers could have taken to eliminate or reduce the risk of patrons slipping, the court considered the following:

  • Providing buckets for wet umbrellas;
  • Providing a bagging system for wet umbrellas;
  • Providing patrons with area to hang wet jackets, raincoats, etc
  • Placing mats on the ground; and
  • Employing a person with a mop to wipe water off of the floor.

When considering which of the above were reasonable, the Court of Appeal looked at the simplicity and suitability of these precautions. The Court found that providing buckets and a bagging system for wet umbrellas was reasonable under the circumstances. It also found that having patrons leave wet raincoats and items outside the auditorium was also reasonable. It was agreed that if these precautions had been taken, the floor would have remained dry.

This decision emphasises the need for an injured person to show that the slip and fall would not have happened had reasonable precautions been taken.

If you have suffered an injury from a slip and fall, or if you are an occupier of premises and need advice on reasonable precautions, our compensation team can assist you with your query.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.

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Being Prepared for Civil Trial

If your dispute is one that is not resolved prior to attending court, there are many steps and considerations to be made in the lead up to trial.  The month before trial can often cause the greatest amount of stress, the most amount of work, and can be a very emotional time for the parties involved.

While preparation of the case is ultimately the aim of the game, there are also the practicalities for parties going to trial that are important.  These include:

Be available

In the lead up to trial, and during the days of trial, clients must be ready, willing and able to provide instructions.  No one knows the facts of the dispute better than the parties themselves.

If your trial is listed for, say, three days, you will need to make sure you have the time off of work, child care is arranged, you have transport to the court, and that you have a support person (if necessary).  If you are a business owner you will need to make arrangements for your business so that you can focus first and foremost on the trial.

Keep track of changes

As the trial draws closer, there may be changes to the parties pleadings or changes to elements of the case, as the evidence continues to be gathered and investigated.

Parties will be expected to interact with their legal team regularly to give detailed instructions.  Parties must cooperate by being able to locate documents and other evidence, even at short notice.

Organise your witnesses

Have your list of witnesses and their contact details up to date, and ensure that all witnesses are aware of the dates and times they are required to attend court.  Expert witnesses such as doctors or engineers can have their evidence taken by telephone, if the court allows.

Know the basics of courtroom etiquette

Parties must be mindful that court proceedings are serious matters, and be aware of many ‘rules of conduct’ in a courtroom.  These include being punctual, dressing appropriately, and behaving in a certain manner.  For instance, stand when the Judge enters and leaves the courtroom, address the judge as ‘Your Honor’, and be respectful when other parties are speaking.

This applies to parties as well as their witnesses.

If you would like more information about preparing for trial please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.

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Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls down stairs are unfortunately common and can result in an individual suffering a serious injury.

If an injury occurs due to the carelessness or negligence of another person, it may be possible to bring a claim for damages.

In order to bring a successful damages claim against an individual or an organisation you must show that the risk of harm was foreseeable and that it would have been reasonable for the person/entity to take action to prevent the risk.

Common slip, trip and fall incidents include:

  • slipping and falling on fluid left on the ground;
  • slipping and falling on slippery flooring in a shop;
  • tripping over objects, such as a cable;
  • tripping and falling due to poor lighting;
  • tripping and falling due to broken steps; and
  • tripping and falling due to a lack of handrails.

The individual circumstances of an incident will affect whether a damages claim can be successfully brought against a Defendant.

A Recent Successful Claim

In Towers v State of NSW [2015] NSWDC 10 a casual cleaner at a public school was injured when he fell down 4 external fibro cement stairs.

The owner and occupier of the premises had previously recognised the risk that the stairs posed, and applied a non-slip paint on 2 different occasions. However, in the 3 years prior to the incident they had failed to reapply the non-slip paint.

Painting the stairs with non-slip paint was a ‘reasonable precaution’ that the defendant should have taken. Because the stairs had been previously painted with non-slip paint the school could not argue that they were not aware that the stairs were subject to wear and were dangerously slippery when wet.

The Court in this case held that the Defendant was liable.

A Recent Unsuccessful Case

A risk must not be an obvious risk, such that common knowledge would tell a reasonable person to take precautions.

In the recent case of Jackson v McDonald’s Australia Ltd [2014] NSWCA 162 an individual fell down the internal staircase of McDonald’s. The individual claimed that he slipped after the sole of his shoe became wet from the recently cleaned floors in the restaurant.

The Court of Appeal found that the risk was an obvious risk and that a reasonable person would have realised that traversing the stairs with wet shoe soles would have involved a risk of slipping.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.

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What is CTP Insurance?

Motor Vehicle Accidents in Queensland – What is CTP Insurance?

You may be entitled to a claim for damages if you have been injured in:

  • a car accident;
  • a motorcycle accident;
  • a bus accident;
  • a truck accident;
  • an incident between a bicycle and any registered vehicle; or
  • an accident between a pedestrian and any registered vehicle.

In Queensland an injured person can make a claim against the insurance company of the driver at fault in the accident. A claim can be made under their CTP insurance policy (Compulsory Third Party Insurance). This type of insurance is compulsory for all motor vehicles that are driven on Queensland roads.

A claim can be made even if a vehicle is not registered or insured, as long as the accident occurs in a public place. In these types of cases the Nominal Defendant will ‘step in’ and act as the CTP insurer for the accident.

The type of claims that CTP insurance covers are set out in section 5 of the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994.

Every claim is assessed on an individual basis, regardless of the number of people injured in the accident and vehicles involved in an accident.

Time Limits

If your claim is against the Nominal Defendant then you must lodge a compliant Notice of Claim within 9 months after the accident or you lose all rights to claim compensation.

If your claim is against the CTP insurer of another vehicle at fault you must submit a compliant Notice of Claim within 9 months after the accident or 1 month after consulting a lawyer. If you do not, then you must provide a reasonable excuse as to the delay. There is a 3 year common law time limit, and if you do not make a claim within 3 years of the accident then you will lose all rights to make a claim. The 3 year time limit is extended for a minor to 3 years after the minor reaches their age of legal capacity at 18 years old.

Rehabilitation

If an insurer admits liability for the motor vehicle accident they will pay for all expenses that are reasonable and appropriate for your rehabilitation.

A rehabilitation plan may include provision for assistance around your home, assistance with personal care and further medical treatment.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.

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