David Lenehan v Sargeant Transport Services Pty Ltd [2016] VMC 014

In an interesting decision, Magistrate Wright had to determine whether or not the management of Mr Lenehan’s posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was exacerbated by the way his compensation claim in relation to another injury had been managed. The Magistrate found that this condition was linked to his physical condition and that it did arise from his employment in that his employment and the consequences of that (the way the claim was addressed) significantly contributed to his PTSD.

The Magistrate was not critical of the employer or WorkCover agent and noted that they acted without any intention of causing harm but that this was ‘part and parcel of a workers compensation claim’. The case demonstrates the importance of managing claims and employee issues with an empathetic view, conscious of timeliness as well as questions of procedural fairness. In some cases an employer is unable to manage the process to reduce harm, and in these cases may be accountable for the harm suffered.