Case Studies

High Court: Commonwealth Employees – Defining an “Injury” for Comcare compensation claims

A recent High Court case that considered what constitutes an "injury" will have significant implications for Commonwealth employees, writes TGB's Tim White.

A recent High Court case that considered what constitutes an injury under section 4 the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 will have significant implications for Commonwealth employees.

Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission v May 

This case is particularly unusual. Mr May claimed to suffer health implications, described as “vertigo”, following a vaccination administered in the course of his employment with the Royal Australian Airforce. Several medical practitioners could not explain why this occurred.

Key findings

The judgment took a narrow interpretation of what can be considered an “injury”. This means that Commonwealth employees won’t simply be able to reply on reporting their symptoms at work for their health issue to be defined as a “work injury”.

It is likely that employees will now need to prove that their work injury has caused physiological change to the affected area, rather than just symptoms and/or pain (e.g. back pain, shoulder pain etc.).

Ramifications of this Court decision

This decision could have a significant impact on injured Commonwealth workers, depending on how widely this case is applied to more mainstream work injuries.

More information

More analysis is to come. In the meantime, read the decision in full here.

Seek advice

TGB has significant experience with injury compensation claims for injured Commonwealth workers, Australia wide. Contact us for a free initial interview.