Seven year Comcare itch

Seven year Comcare itch

A Comcare employee who developed a mental health condition subsequent to management action has been successful in her workers compensation claim following a seven year legal battle.

Ms Martin’s claim for an aggravation of her mental condition was rejected by Comcare in 2012 on the basis that her injury was a result of “reasonable administrative action”, and therefore non-compensable.

This determination was successfully challenged in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), however proceeded through the Federal Court and Full Federal Court.

In 2016, Ms Martin’s matter was eventually heard by the High Court, who determined that her injury would not have occurred absent the administrative action.

This was a landmark decision that clarified the scope of the “reasonable administrative action” defence, which is often used in psychiatric injury cases.

It is now clear that a claim cannot be lawfully rejected simply because “reasonable administrative action” is a cause of the injury, rather it must be established that the worker’s employment would not have significantly contributed to their injury, had the reasonable administrative action not happened.

The High Court remitted the matter back to the AAT, in order for a determination to be made as to whether the administrative action was undertaken in a reasonable manner.

The AAT found the administrative action was not undertaken in a reasonable manner, and accordingly Ms Martin was successful.

Comcare again appealed this decision to the Federal Court in 2019, but withdrew its application and accepted liability for Ms Martin’s injuries.

The legal costs to Comcare are confirmed at $425,000 and the statutory authority will also now be expected to pay the legal costs for Ms Martin, which are expected to exceed $400,000.

For more information about this case and your entitlements under the Comcare compensation scheme, please contact one of our lawyers directly on (03) 9321 9988.

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