Our self-insured clients call on our expertise in a wide variety of matters ranging from minor queries relating to the management of statutory claims to the defence of significant and complex common law claims.
We understand the legal needs particular to self-insurers. Our team works with clients to resolve claims as quickly as possible, ensuring that the risks of damage to reputation and significant expense are minimised. We understand that shorter claim durations are in the best interests of our clients. Our file work is targeted to achieve appropriate resolution of claims at the earliest possible stage.
That is not to say that our claims philosophy is one of acquiescence. We understand that on some occasions appropriate resolution means taking claims to trial. In those circumstances, our team will work with you to plan the litigation strategy in a way that is commercial, cost conscious and committed to achieving the best outcome.
Our advice is not confined to common law claims. We work with our clients to develop an all-inclusive approach to the management of risks and liabilities. We have specialist expertise in workplace health and safety, public liability and industrial relations, ensuring that we provide comprehensive advice to clients on all workplace issues, including:
- statutory workers’ compensation claims
- early strategic advice for statutory claims which will likely proceed to common law
- drafting reasons for decision and advising in relation to reviews and appeals
- industrial relations issues which arise with injured workers
- risk management of workplace health and safety issues
- assisting with investigations/prosecutions by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
Early-resolution strategy: After reviewing the (then current) statutory claim of an injured 35 year old miner who fell from scaffolding after being struck by a boulder, we identified an opportunity for an efficient and cost-effective resolution to the inevitable common law claim, with a favourable outcome for all. We commenced informal negotiations promptly at the conclusion of the statutory claim. The damages claim was resolved shortly after that, but before embarking on the pre-proceedings process which would have delayed the claim, interfered with return to work outcomes and incurred significant additional legal costs for both parties. With some guidance, the miner was also able to return to his pre-injury role with the self-insured employer.
Decisive action with favourable outcome: At the compulsory conference, a claimant who had been returned to work complained of ongoing problems with his injury. We had the conference promptly adjourned and sought assessment by an occupational physician with consent to use the report for claim and employment purposes. The assessment found the worker at risk of further injury in his role and he was stood down. The conference was then reconvened, with the claim settled and the worker resigning.
We have resolved numerous claims which have involved the joint resolution of employment issues.
Defence of claim leads to claimant walking away: We acted for an employer in a claim for workplace bullying. We assembled evidence to show that the actions of the individual involved in the bullying activities were well outside the scope of employment, contrary to training the employer had provided to the individual and that the employer had taken decisive action once it was aware of the bullying activities. As such, we defended the claim on the basis that the employer had no vicarious liability for the actions of the individual who bullied the claimant. After the pre-proceedings process, the claimant elected not to pursue her claim further.
This is but one of multiple cases where we have achieved a ‘walk-away’ result from a claimant.
Successful rejection of statutory claim: We acted for a self-insured employer in relation to a statutory claim for lung cancer allegedly linked to asbestos exposure. If accepted, the lump sum statutory payment to be made by the self-insurer would total $600,000. We carefully assembled evidence, including multiple clarifications from our specialist, which gave rise to three grounds for rejection of the claim at first instance. The Workers’ Compensation Regulator ultimately upheld the employer’s decision in finding that the worker had not sustained an ‘injury’ because smoking (rather than asbestos exposure) was the significant contributing factor to the condition.
Quick resolution of minor claims: We have also resolved a number of claims for minor injuries with an offer based on our assessment within one month following receipt of the Notice of Claim. The offer is made as a final offer, with the worker advised that it will replicate the insurer’s written final offer at conclusion of the pre-proceedings process. Again, this reduces the legal spend for the self-insured employer whether the offer is taken at the early stage or later in the claim.