Brambles loses compensation appeal against truckie

Brambles faces hefty payments to injured truck driver after appeal against compensation claim is dismissed

By Brad Gardner | July 14, 2010

Brambles will be forced to make hefty compensation payments to an injured truck driver after losing its case in the NSW Court of Appeal.

The court rejected Brambles’ argument that insufficient reason was given by the Workers Compensation Commission on why an incident that might have contributed to Timothy Bell’s injured back was not considered.

Bell hurt himself while moving a heavy bin in 2003 when working for Brambles and also suffered head and neck injuries when he rolled a truck while working for Morrison Recruitment in 2007.

Bell is now unable to work due to the injuries, which Brambles wants Morrison Recruitment to also be held liable for.

But Judge David Hodgson upheld last year’s ruling by the commission that Brambles was liable.

Like the commission, the court accepted the findings of a medical report that the crash only temporarily aggravated Bell's injured back, which again flared up even after he recovered from the crash.

"Accordingly in my opinion no error of law is shown," Hodgson says.

"The order of the court is appeal dismissed with costs."

The Workers Compensation Commission ordered Brambles to make continuing payments of $553.10 a week from April 1, 2009.

As well as covering Bell’s medical costs, Brambles was also ordered to make payments at different rates dating back to September 2007.

It will need to pay $849 a week for the weeks from September 21 to December 12 and another $700 per week from December 13, 2007 to January 25, 2008.

Brambles will pay $624.40 per week from January 26, 2008 to March 31, 2008 and $636.60 for the weeks from April 1, 2008 and August 27, 2008.

Another $532.90 per week will be allocated for the weeks from August 28, 2008 to September 30, 2008 and $542.10 per week from October 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.

Brambles also questioned the commission’s reliance on the medical report.

It was made in January 2008 and followed a previous one in December 2007. It cited a large disc protrusion while the earlier report claimed there was a small disc protrusion. Both reports were from the same medical specialist.

Brambles argued the commission should not have relied on the January report because there was no explanation why the difference did not change the specialist’s view that the 2007 incident did not play a role in Bell’s injuries.

Hodgson ruled that it would have been preferable had an explanation been offered, but says the omission did not negate the value of the specialist’s findings.

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