Poorly maintained facilities can bring about Worker’s Compensation Claims.
Twenty three year old Mr X was working as a labourer at “Arnold’s Bacon House”, a pig abattoir, in Western Queensland. Mr X enjoyed the physical nature of his work; he was a representative rugby league player and his job kept him fit, he never thought he would one day have to consider a workers compensation claim.
One of his tasks was to push the slaughtered pigs along an overhead rail so that they could be “broken down” and processed into cuts of pork suitable for the fresh and cured markets.
The facilities at Arnold's Bacon House were in serious need of an upgrade. They had not seen much maintenance work either as the big supermarkets had removed a lot of the fat from the profits over the last thirty years. The owners of Arnold's Bacon House did all they can to keep the business afloat and keep some of the young town’s people employed.
As a result of this suffocating cash-flow, the rails on the processing line were old and rusty and in poor condition generally.
On this particular day, the abattoir was processing “finishing pigs”, which weigh around 110kg. One of the sections of the processing line finally rusted through just as Mr X gave an exceptionally large carcass an extra shove. The pig fell off, knocking Mr X to the floor, and rendering him unconscious as his head smashed on the concrete floor of the abattoir.
How flying pigs initiated this Worker’s Compensation Claim.
Worse was to follow....the first pig had bent the processing rail down towards the ground. Gravity then kicked in, and the next six pigs on the line careered down the slope crashing off at the break in the rail - to land on top of the unconscious Mr X. Being on the bottom of a pack of 110kg pigs was worse than any rugby league game.
All of this happened in a split second….the line was shut off immediately by a co-worker who rushed to save Mr X. He was revived immediately and an ambulance called. After ensuring he had not suffered any significant t spinal injury he was transferred to the local base hospital.
Here, x-rays and scans revealed he had suffered extensive neck and back injuries.
Medical staff advised that he was unable to return to work despite his persistent pleas.
Workers compensation should involve analysis of alternative employment.
He was left with a permanent impairment and a stiff limp. He now faces significant difficulty in obtaining suitable alternative employment as he had never finished senior school, thinking that football would be his meal ticket for life. He can no longer play Rugby League and many felt that a brilliant representative career had been cut well short.
He despondently lodged a Work Cover Statutory Claim for wages and medical treatment. At the conclusion of his claim he was offered a small amount as lump sum compensation.
Seek Professional Advice if you are unsure of the Worker’s compensation process.
Mr X sought legal advice as he thought that the compensation wouldn’t help him retrain or seek the appropriate medical treatment. His lawyers suggested that he pursue a claim for negligence at common law against his employer and Work Cover. He instructed them to lodge a Notice of Claim for Damages. In the Notice a claim was made for pain and suffering, loss of income (past and future) and out of pocket expenses (past and present).
Most Worker’s compensation matters can be settled without going to court.
The matter proceeded to compulsory conference and settled for about five times Mr X’s annual wage. At 23 years old it gave him enough money to be able to go back to night school where he finally obtained his HSC. He then studied Human Movements at his local University.
When he has completed his studies he has been offered a job with a state rugby league body as a development officer in promoting the sport to juniors in the area.
Whilst he agrees that not being able to play the game again is still painful, his new prospects are better than anything he could have hoped for when he was lying under a tonne of pig carcasses at Arnolds Bacon House three years earlier.
Speak to a Lawyer if you are unsure about your possible Worker’s compensation claim.
Gouldson Legal acted for Mr X in this case. If you know of anyone that has been injured in a workplace accident and had been offered settlement sums without consulting a lawyer, you should encourage them to rethink their course of action and speak to a qualified legal practitioner in the event that it may be the difference between a full recovery and a partial one.
Many cases may appear to be similar. At Gouldson Legal we understand each case is unique.
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