$350,000 Compensation for back injury: the insurer said the claimant’s impairment was 0%

Our client worked in the warehouse of a catering business. He slipped on the floor and suffered a serious back injury. Putting the compensation amount to one side, this case is a good example of why you shouldn’t trust the insurance company. Let’s look at the facts…


Insurance doctor says 0% impairment – don’t get disheartened

Our client was in his mid 30s when his workplace accident happened. Despite receiving injections and undergoing various treatment such as physiotherapy or hydrotherapy, our client’s spinal condition did not improve following the incident. So much so that he was unable to return to his warehousing role.


And yet, the insurance company’s doctor assessed the level of his permanent impairment as 0%. In fact, the doctor stated in his report that our client was untrustworthy.


This takes us to a really important point: as an injured person, it’s easy to be disheartened when a doctor says your impairment is 0%. You start doubting yourself.  The reality is, just because a doctor says your impairment is 0% doesn’t mean they are right, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t recover a potentially sizeable compensation. In fact, if you are unable to return to work and yet end up with a 0% impairment assessment, that probably means the doctor got it wrong (most likely because they are not truly independent).


Ice on floor surface yet the employer denies the accident is their fault

Another interesting point about this matter was that the floor surface in the workplace was always slippery. It had ice and water on it. This was not an isolated circumstance, the floor was always like that!


At law, the employer must provide a safe system of work, and as part of this, a safe floor surface. Nonetheless, the employer in this case denied that they were at fault. They alleged that our client was not accurately describing the floor surface. Plus, they said it was our client’s job to clean the floor anyway.


What we did to achieve a successful outcome

First of all, we engaged a neurosurgeon to review all medical evidence and give us a fair opinion on our client’s injuries. Suffice to say he didn’t think the level of impairment was 0%. More importantly, he expressed the view that our client would not be able to return to a physically demanding role in the future.


Why is this important? Because our client had only ever worked in physical jobs. He had no experience in an office environment. In other words, our medical evidence showed that our client would lose significant income in the future because he would probably not be able to earn at least for a period while retraining for a (lower paying) office role.


Secondly, we obtained the employer’s internal documents.  These showed that it wasn’t our client’s responsibility to clean the floor. It was not part of his job description. Moreover, the documents also showed the employer was very much aware of the slippery surface, they just haven’t done anything to address the issue.


In the end, it was an 18 months long fight but we achieved a $350,000 compensation for our client – considerably more than what a 0% impairment assessment gets you. Our client is now able to pay for his ongoing medical treatment, he can retrain, and in the meantime him and his family don’t have to worry about defaulting on mortgage repayments.


If you want to get sound legal advice about your injury claim and how much your claim may be worth, please get in touch with us on (07) 3063 2268 or email info@deneslawyers.com.au and we will be happy to help.