By Tristan Higham

 Trumino v Coles Group Ltd

[2017] QSC 211 involved the applicant who was a worker for the respondent and was injured as a result of a slip and fall on frozen water in one of the store’s freezer storage rooms, sustaining injuries to his lower back and subsequently developed further symptoms including urinary and erectile dysfunction and a secondary psychiatric injury. The applicant sustained injury on 12 May 2014 and therefore had to meet the requirements as set out in s.237(1) of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (“WCRA”) otherwise known as the Newman Amendments.

In Issue

The issue that was raised at application was whether the claimant had entitlement to seek damages for the secondary psychiatric injury, due to the threshold requirements of s.237(1) as he was only afforded a 1% DPI by the Medical Assessment Tribunal. The Respondent issued two Notices of Assessment, one for the physical injuries and one for the psychiatric injury. The physical injury was assessed with a DPI of 35%.

The Respondent contended that s.237(1) of the WCRA confined the claimant from being able to claim for damages related to the psychological injury, as the impairment failed to meet the threshold. The claimant contended that once the threshold was met regardless of the injury, that went over the threshold, the claimant was not restricted for claiming for all injuries which arose out of the subject event.

The Result

The Court held that s.237 is concerned with limiting persons entitled to seek damages by way of the threshold, and that once past the threshold it does not control the future conduct or limits of the Claim.

In addition, the Court noted that in the issuing of two Notices of Assessment is an administrative process and does not change the meaning of s.185 of the WCRA, in what is an approve Notice of Assessment form and has no bearing on the application of s.237.

Implications for You

This case provides useful guidance on the operation of s.237 and the entitlement issue for workers suffering multiple injuries as a result of the same event. It is now clear that once the claimant has met the threshold, they are entitled to Claim for all injuries that flow from the event, regardless of the individual DPI assessments, and the issuing of multiple Notices of Assessment to try and limit the claimant’s entitlement will be found by the Court to be incorrect with the intention of the WCRA.

Further details on the judgment can be read here.