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May 22

Secondary Psychological Injuries: A Personal Injury Case Study on Depression

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When a worker is injured during the course of their employment, they may suffer more than just the physical injuries afflicting their body. Psychological injuries such as stress and depression are conditions that may arise as secondary injuries caused by the employer's negligence and the worker's incapacity.

However, this can be a complicated aspect to prove because the worker must establish that the secondary injury was caused, or at least materially contributed, by the accident at work due to the employer's negligence.

A Specialist in Personal Injury is professionally trained to handle the complexities of these cases and should be consulted for advice if an accident at work has led to psychological injuries that require the care of a medical professional.

Harris v State of Queensland [2014] QDC 35

Facts

This case involves an admissions clerk, Rosemaree Harris, at the Maryborough Correctional Centre who was hit by a trolley from behind. The trolley was being pushed by another employee at the centre and caused Ms Harris to sustain ruptured ligaments in her left ankle.

The injury required surgery, but she continued to feel severe pain that prevented her from returning to work. As a result of the injury and her circumstances, she also developed depression.

Liability was not an issue in this case. There was an issue regarding the amount of compensatory damages for her injuries. The defendant argued that her depression was the result of factors separate from the workplace accident including the break-up of her marriage that had incidents of domestic violence.

Judgement

The court was satisfied that Ms Harris' psychological injury was caused by the accident and the employer's negligence.

Damages were assessed based on the consideration that Ms Harris would be able to return to work after undertaking rehabilitation, albeit never as a prison officer.

The court awarded Ms Harris damages in the amount of $311,708.91.

Conclusion

If you have suffered an injury that has led to depression, stress, phobia or any other psychological/psychiatric injury, it is important that you seek advice from a Specialist in Personal Injury in order to be properly informed of your rights.

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