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Employer’s Negligence / Fault

Employers owe a duty of care to ensure that reasonable care is taken for the safety of employees. Generally, employers have an obligation to provide:

  • a safe place to work;
  • a safe system of work;
  • reasonable and appropriate work duties;
  • equipment that is in good working order;
  • adequate training and instructions.

If your injuries arose because of your employer not providing a safe work environment, you may consider a common law claim seeking damages (compensation). Whilst negligence is alleged against your employer, it is WorkCover Queensland (or the equivalent self-insurer) that manages the claim and any damages are paid by WorkCover, not the employer.

An injured worker may also make a common law claim when they are injured because of the negligence of a co-worker, so long as their co-worker’s actions were within the scope of their employment.

Damages / Compensation

Common law damages may include monetary compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Past and future expenses including medical, pharmaceutical, travel, rehabilitation;
  • Past and future loss of income or loss of earning capacity (what you would have earned but for the injuries) and any loss of superannuation;
  • In some limited circumstances, past and future care and assistance.

Common law claims can therefore result in you receiving hundreds of thousands in damages (ie compensation).

When You Can Commence a Common Law Claim

At the conclusion of your WorkCover Statutory Claim (ie your “compo” claim), WorkCover will arrange an assessment with a medical practitioner or the Medical Assessment Tribunal to assess any permanent impairment you may have. Based on this assessment, WorkCover will then offer you a lump sum amount in a Notice of Assessment (NOA). The offer is based on the percentage impairment calculated by the doctor(s).

If you believe that the degree of permanent impairment that has been assessed is too low, you can ask for your physical injuries to be re-assessed by the Medical Assessment Tribunal or a doctor of your own choosing, so long as they are GEPI qualified and have similar (or better) qualifications to the original doctor who assessed those injuries. Any permanent impairment for psychiatric injuries will have already been assessed by the Medical Assessment Tribunal and cannot therefore be challenged.

If you do ask for your physical injuries to be re-assessed, then the original NOA will be withdrawn and a fresh NOA will be issued once your injuries have been re-assessed.

Upon receipt of the (final) NOA from WorkCover, you should carefully review it and then obtain legal advice in relation to whether you have any prospects of success in a common law claim. When you receive the (final) NOA, you will have three options:

  1. Accept the offer;
  2. Reject the offer; or
  3. Defer the offer to make a decision later.

Your options will also depend on what your percentage of impairment was assessed at.

If your percentage impairment is less than 20% and you accept the NOA offer, you will be precluded from bringing a common law claim. It is therefore important that you DO NOT accept any lump sum offer without first seeking legal advice.

Your legal representative will provide you with advice to help you decide whether you can and should proceed with a common law or whether you should simply accept the NOA offer. By proceeding to common law, lodgement of the Notice of Claim for Damages form will reject the NOA offer.

You are able to defer the decision on the lump sum offer and then decide at a later stage if you want to proceed with a common law claim or accept the NOA offer. Bear in mind you only have three (3) years from the date of your incident to pursue a common law claim. If you have not resolved your common law claim within this timeframe or taken the relevant steps to protect your limitation period, then you will be statute barred, meaning you will forever lose your right to bring a common law claim for damages.

If your percentage is 20% or above for your physical injuries or your psychological injuries, you will be able to accept the NOA lump sum offer for the injury that meets the 20% or more threshold and also proceed with a common law claim. Please note that you cannot add together the percentages for the physical injury and psychiatric injury to arrive at 20% or more. They must be treated separately.

Commencement of Common Law Claim

Once WorkCover have issued the NOA, a Notice of Claim for Damages form can be lodged to commence your common law claim. This form contains all the information in relation to you, the injuries, the incident, the negligence, the treatment and the ongoing impact from the injuries. This form must be lodged within three years from the date of your incident, unless an extension under the legislation has been sought.

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    • No uplift fees charged
    • No litigation lenders or interest charges on outlays / disbursements
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    • Immediate assessment of your claim

    *Strict time limits apply when making a claim. Do not delay.

    Managing Director

    Sean Delpopolo

    Sean Delpopolo

    Sean is a Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law.*

    Sean specialises in work injury claims, workplace injury claims, motor vehicle accident injury claims, motorcycle accident injury claims, other road accident injury claims, brain and head injury claims, spinal injury claims, public liability injury claims, death and fatal injury claims, psychiatric and psychological injury claims and total and permanent disability claims.

    He has been running personal injury claims in Queensland for over 25 years. Sean founded our firm in 2004 and the firm has grown and gone from strength to strength on the background of outstanding service, incredible results and charging really fair fees.

    With an innate sense of fairness and justice, this motivates Sean and his team to do everything they can to ensure that the results they achieve for their clients are something that they can all be proud of. In Sean’s mind, the interests of the firm’s clients come first, before anything else, and this value has flowed on through to the entire team.

    As a father of two daughters, Sean understands that his clients’ personal injury claims can make a huge difference to their lives and the lives of those around them. This is why he has made it his life’s work to fight for the “little guy” to obtain the compensation they deserve.

    * To find out more about what it takes to become an Accredited Specialist click here.

    Director

    Helen Ashton

    Helen Ashton

    Helen is a Queensland Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law.*

    As an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, having been awarded the highest achiever award for the course in 2015, Helen has a high level of knowledge and technical expertise. Admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2001, she also has extensive experience in running all types of personal injury claims.

    Helen specialises in work injury claims, workplace injury claims, motor vehicle accident, motorcycle accident injury claims, other road accident injury claims, medical negligence claims, construction accident claims, mining accident claims, public liability injury claims, death and fatal injury claims, psychiatric and psychological injury claims and total and permanent disability claims.

    Helen has a friendly and approachable personality and strives to ensure that her clients are kept well informed and are provided with quality and practical legal advice.

    As a mother of three young children, Helen understands the impact events can have on a family unit and works proactively to achieve the right result for her clients in the shortest possible timeframe. Helen has the ability and the experience to assist clients with a wide variety of claims, including any personal injury claims with a high level of complexity and those that have had catastrophic consequences.

    * To find out more about what it takes to become an Accredited Specialist click here.

    Special Counsel

    Nickelle Morris

    Nickelle Morris

    Nickelle is an expert in personal injury claims and has been recognised by the Queensland Law Society as an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law.* She was awarded the highest achiever award for the accreditation course which she completed in 2022. Nickelle was also a finalist in the Special Counsel of the Year category in the Australian Law Awards in 2019.

    Nickelle has been practising exclusively in personal injury litigation for over 20 years. She has extensive experience in catastrophic claims and fatality claims across all practice areas.

    Nickelle specialises in catastrophic injury claims (including traumatic brain injuries, acquired brain injuries and other head injuries, amputations, severe burns and spinal cord injuries resulting in tetraplegia, paraplegia and the like), National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIISQ) claims, work injury claims, workplace injury claims, motor vehicle accident injury claims, motorcycle accident injury claims, other road accident injury claims, public liability injury claims, medical negligence claims, death and fatal injury claims, psychiatric and psychological injury claims and total and permanent disability claims.

    Nickelle prides herself on being a technical, yet practical and compassionate lawyer. She takes her time to understand her client’s situation and to ensure that they have an understanding of their rights and entitlements. Nickelle is a tenacious and passionate advocate for her clients and is dedicated to being proactive in ensuring her client’s needs are met and achieving the best outcome for her clients.

    Outside of work, Nickelle is a mother of two children and is a member of a number of committees both within the legal industry and community.

    * To find out more about what it takes to become an Accredited Specialist click here.

    Special Counsel

    Barry Mcgee

    Barry has always loved a spirited debate, and, with over 20 years specialising exclusively in personal injury litigation, his passion, skill and ability to assist his clients is well known throughout the Queensland profession.

    Barry specialises in work injury claims, workplace injury claims, motor vehicle accident injury claims, motorcycle accident injury claims, other road accident injury claims, construction accident claims, mining accident claims, public liability injury claims, death and fatal injury claims, psychiatric and psychological injury claims and total and permanent disability claims.

    Barry’s legal career began in his native Scotland, where he qualified as a Solicitor in 1998. Upon qualifying, he worked for a boutique practice, and then a top-tier national firm, representing a number of different insurers across a variety of industries. With years of working for insurers under his belt, Barry is able to see matters through the eyes of his legal opponents. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say!

    He was admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2007. In Australia, he commenced working for a large national firm, where he spent 15 years practicing in personal injury litigation. He was made a Partner of the firm in 2011 and spent 11 years as the firm’s dedicated in-house Special Counsel. As Special Counsel, Barry provided expert advocacy and strategical advice and assistance to the firm’s personal injury lawyers and clients of the firm alike.

    Barry has significant and extensive experience across a wide variety of personal injury claims. He is compassionate, personable and straightforward, with a keen sense of what is fair and just and a reputation for not settling for anything less than his client deserves.

    Outside of work he enjoys surfing, the outdoors, music and spending time with his wife and 3 young children.

    Special Counsel

    Charlotte Evans

    Charlotte has practised exclusively in personal injury compensation litigation for over 20 years.

    Charlotte specialises in sexual abuse claims, work injury claims, workplace injury claims, motor vehicle accident injury claims, motorcycle accident injury claims, other road accident injury claims, construction accident claims, mining accident claims, public liability injury claims, death and fatal injury claims, psychiatric and psychological injury claims and total and permanent disability claims.

    She is committed to fighting for the rights of plaintiffs and helping her clients through the legal maze, to achieve outcomes that put people back in control of their lives. She has had experience in taking a number of personal injury cases to Trial and winning hard fought cases for her clients and she does not shy away from a challenge.

    Charlotte has a friendly and approachable personality and strives to cut through the legal jargon to make the personal injury claim process understandable for her clients whilst ensuring that her clients are also kept well informed throughout their claim.

    Out of the office Charlotte is a busy Mum, who now enjoys the privileges of living in beautiful Queensland and making the most of all it has to offer.

    Special Counsel

    Prue Prescott

    Prue has been running personal injury claims for nearly 20 years. This has involved acting for injured claimants in most areas of personal injury law including workers’ compensation injury claims, motor vehicle accident injury claims, public liability injury claims, death and fatality claims, psychiatric injury claims, National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIISQ) claims and total and permanent disability claims.

    Prue enjoys handling the more complex claims, such as traumatic brain injury, fatal injury and nervous shock claims, as well as claims involving complex legal principles. Prue seeks to use her Masters qualification in writing and literature to tell each and every client’s individual story, ensuring they are treated fairly by insurers and that they obtain the compensation they deserve.

    In 2019, Prue was nominated by the Women Lawyers Association of Queensland Inc as an Inspirational Lawyer.

    Outside of work, Prue is a busy mum of boys but also tries to find the time to read, write and explore nature.

    Office Manager

    Julie Hollonds

    Julie is a highly dedicated and experienced office manager who has been an integral part of our team for the past 14 years. Bringing a wealth of knowledge with over 35 years of experience in administration, Julie keeps our office running smoothly and efficiently.

    Outside of work, Julie loves to walk, snorkel, spend time with friends and explore the beautiful Northern Rivers region of New South Wales.

    Legal Assistant

    Aleisha Harrigan

    Having worked as a legal assistant for over five years, Aleisha has a wealth of experience in the field of personal injury. Since joining East Coast Lawyers, she has been an essential part of providing invaluable support to solicitors and our clients. Her abilities extend beyond legal matters with Aleisha providing training to our assistants and administrative team, and streamlining processes and procedures, ensuring that the workflows operate smoothly and effectively.

    Outside of work, Aleisha has a passion for reading and music. She can often be found immersed in a good book or a live concert. She values spending quality time with her family, friends and her beloved dog, Kevin.

    Legal Assistant

    Kym Arrowsmith

    Kym is a knowledgeable legal assistant with fifteen years of expertise in the field of personal injury law. She is passionate about supporting clients through the process and obtaining the best possible outcome for them. As a valued member of our team, Kym takes pride in her work and is committed to sharing her extensive experience and knowledge with our other team members.

    When Kym is not busy with work, she loves spending time with her family and friends, and enjoys discovering new places, whether it be through the pages of a biography or on her push bike.

    Legal Assistant

    Alece Turner

    Alece is a law student who is extremely motivated and passionate about personal injury law. She is hardworking, and always strives to produce the best possible results for our clients.

    Her dedication and eagerness to learn more about the law makes Alece a great addition to our team.

    When not working or studying, she loves spending time with her son at the beach or at one of our amazing theme parks.

    Legal Assistant

    Georgia Ryan

    Georgia recently joined the team in February 2023 and has been working within the industry for the last three years. She is enthusiastic about helping new and existing clients, and with her bubbly personality and can-do approach makes her an excellent addition to our team.

    Raised in Tasmania, Georgia moved to Queensland in early 2017 and hasn’t regretted it since. She loves the warm weather and lifestyle. Outside of work, Georgia loves travelling, dining out and spending time with family and friends.

    Legal Assistant

    Claire Rezny

    Claire is one of our hard working and devoted Legal Assistants. With over 25 years’ administrative experience, her attention to detail, willingness to help others, and calm demeanour makes her a real asset to our team.

    Claire is well travelled and, during her time in the USA, Claire discovered a newfound love for reading, which led her to become a proofreader for several published novels. Claire also enjoys landscape and wildlife photography and spending time with her family and puppy.

    RECEPTIONIST AND ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

    Shayla Riley

    Shayla joined our team in September 2023, coming from an extensive background in customer service.

    Shayla is a law student who is very passionate about personal injury law. With her bubbly personality and can-do attitude this makes her the perfect person for her administration support role.

    When Shayla is not in the office you can find her enjoying all things outdoors, getting lost in a good book or spending time with her two rescue dogs Bear and Ella. 

    RECEPTIONIST AND ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

    Brooke Gribble

    Meet Brooke, our receptionist and administration assistant. Brooke has over 3 years’ administration experience in personal injury law and is eager to provide high quality customer service to our clients.

    Brooke finds joy in helping others and is extremely hard working making her a real asset to our team.

    Out of the office you may find Brooke at a racetrack as she has a passion for fast cars. Brooke also likes spending her time enjoying outdoor activities such as swimming and hiking but will never pass up the opportunity to indulge in some retail therapy.