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Learn from the Lawman

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Stuart Barnett is our mining industry’s leading personal injury lawyer. This month he has some important advice about consequential injuries to a part of the body following a workplace injury to another part of the body.

Unfortunately, an injury suffered at work that is compensable can lead to an injury to a completely different part of the body. I am often asked whether the injury to the other part of the body can be claimed as workers compensation. 

The answer is, yes, in some circumstances that further injury is compensable. It is, what the law calls a consequential injury. There are several ways this can occur.

One circumstance is where, say a limb is injured at work causing the injured worker to favour the other limb. For example, a worker injures the right shoulder and as consequence starts using and perhaps overusing the left arm and develops pain and discomfort in the left shoulder. This can apply to other parts of the body such as the knees and legs,  

Another example where a consequential injury can arise is where there is nerve damage. An injury to the back or neck causing an injury to the spinal cord can lead to reduced or in some circumstances no use of the arms or legs. Readers may have heard of sciatica, where an injury to the back leads to damage to the sciatic nerve resulting in leg pain or reduced function in the leg.      

The third circumstance in today’s article is where an injury leads to a fall. For example, a worker injures a knee, and the knee gives way causing a fall and the worker breaks their wrist in the fall. The wrist injury being a direct consequence of the work-related leg injury.

There will be other instances where consequential injuries arise. When this occurs, it is very important that your doctor be informed, and the consequential injury is reported to your employer and workers compensation insurer.       

This is general advice and because your individual circumstances will vary, I recommend seeking out specific advice for your needs.

Stuart Barnett

Slater & Gordon Lawyers

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