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Case study: AAI Limited v Caffrey

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Mr Caffrey was a police officer who attended a road accident where a driver had collided with a tree. Upon arrival, Mr Caffrey found the driver was trapped in the car with his legs severely “squashed”, but still alive. Mr Caffrey administered first aid and spoke to the driver until paramedics and fire service arrived at the scene. Mr Caffrey also attended to the driver’s parents who had arrived at the accident and he helped them to say goodbye to their son before he passed away at the scene due to his serious injuries. 

Prior to the incident, Mr Caffrey had been a well-adjusted person with no significant psychological injuries who had attended many serious incidents in his role as a police officer. Following this incident, Mr Caffrey developed a range of psychological symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, depression and specific post-traumatic symptoms such as flashbacks and reliving experiences. These symptoms resulted in his medical retirement. 

Issues 

Mr Caffrey sued insurer AAI for damages alleging that, as a result of the driver’s negligent driving, he had suffered these devastating psychiatric injuries. It was clear the driver had been negligent as he had been driving at an excessive speed while intoxicated by methamphetamine, amphetamine and marijuana, so that was not the dispute. The main issue at the trial and in the appeal was whether the driver owed Mr Caffrey a duty of care to avoid causing him the harm that he had suffered by attending the scene of the crash as part of his duties as a Queensland police officer. 

Findings 

The court ultimately determined that the driver owed Mr Caffrey a duty of care and he was awarded $1,092,948.

If you’ve been injured, contact Sciaccas Lawyers, so that we can advise you on your rights and prospects of successfully pursuing a claim. We always recommend that you contact us as soon as possible so that we can ensure your interests are protected and you do not miss any time limits.  Feel free to contact us today on 1800 658 525.

Ian Leavers Awarded the Con Sciacca Memorial Award

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Ian Leavers, General President and CEO of the Queensland Police Union of Employees, has been awarded the first inaugural Con Sciacca Memorial Award.

This Award recognises and honours the memory of Con Sciacca AO by honouring a member of an Australian union who has shown a willingness and dedication to advancing the rights of Australian workers.

Con Sciacca was a Federal Minister of the Crown and a solicitor of the Supreme and High Courts of Australia. He was also a Labor politician and an advocate for Australian unions and their members. He died in 2017 at the age of 70, following a long fight with cancer.

Mr Leavers enjoyed a long and dedicated career as a police officer. Since 2009 he has been the voice of the QPUE, representing over 11,000 police officers across the State. He has consistently stood up for both the safety of police officers and the public.

The award comes with a $3000 prize. Mr Leavers, however, has declined to personally accept the money and instead chosen to donate $1000 each to three police families. The first is the Poustie family who tragically lost husband and father Brendan in 2017.

To find out more about the Con Sciacca Memorial Award visit https://www.sciaccas.com.au/con-sciacca-award.

What is a redundancy?

By | Employment Law | No Comments

A redundancy is a genuine redundancy when the person’s job doesn’t need to be performed by anybody anymore.
A redundancy usually occurs because of a change in the businesses operations or strategy. Your employer should consult with you before the redundancy occurs and try to accommodate you in other areas of the business.

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Motor Vehicle Accidents & CTP Claims

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We have recently advised an increasing number of police officers who have sustained personal injuries arising from their involvement in motor vehicle accidents. A number of those have resulted from officers being struck by motor vehicles in the course of avoiding random breath testing.

Officers will be aware that if they suffer injuries arising from a motor vehicle accident in the course of their employment they are entitled to lodge a claim with Workcover Queensland for statutory benefits pursuant to the provisions of the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. What officers may not be aware of is that they are also entitled to lodge a claim against the compulsory third party (CTP) insurer of the at fault vehicle.

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Will I lose my job because I’m ill?

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You are protected at work from being treated adversely because you have an illness if your employer is aware of your illness.

This means that if you are suffering from an illness or injury your employer has an obligation (under anti-discrimination legislation) to consider making reasonable adjustments (within the capability of the business) to enable you to perform your role.

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Do I have to give my employer a medical certificate?

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If you have taken paid personal leave (sick leave) and your employer requests that you provide a medical certificate, then you will need to comply.

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), section 97 allows you to take paid personal/carer’s leave when you are not fit for work because of a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the employee; or when you need to provide care or support to a member of your immediate family or household, who requires care or support because of a personal illness, or personal injury, affecting the member; or an unexpected emergency affecting the member.

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Am I still entitled to compensation if I was partly to blame for the car accident?

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When dealing with compensation for motor vehicle accidents in Queensland, there are two aspects that you must prove to successfully bring a claim.

The First aspect is with respect to liability or negligence and the second is with respect to the injuries sustained by the negligence and the damages or compensation that flows from that.

If you are unable to prove negligence / liability then you do not recover any damages / compensation for your injury. This means that if the motor vehicle accident was your own fault, you cannot pursue a negligence claim as the accident was your own fault.

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Is there such thing as a stress claim?

By | Workplace Accidents | No Comments

In the current economic client, many workers’ are finding themselves under increasing pressure from their employers to meet heavier and heavier workloads, whilst at the same time having less resources and support available to do so. It is therefore hardly surprising that workers’ compensation claims involving workplace stress are on the rise. In fact, recent figures published by Safe Work Australia suggest that 95% of workers’ compensation claims for psychiatric injuries, in Australia, involve elements of work related stress.[1] This raises the question of in what particular circumstances a worker’s compensation claim based on workplace stress will be accepted?

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What happens in a hit & run

By | Motor Accidents | No Comments

It is an unfortunate reality, but altogether not uncommon, that motor accidents occur in circumstances where the offending vehicle fails to remain on the scene.

If you have been in an accident where you are unable to identify the vehicle responsible, you are still able to bring a claim for any personal injury that you have suffered. In these circumstances there is a State Government insurance fund which is managed by the Government Department known as the “Nominal Defendant” that acts as a compulsory third party insurer of unregistered and/or unidentified vehicles.

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Medical Retirement – What Next?

By | Workplace Accidents | No Comments

In recent years we have seen a significant increase in the number of Police Officers medically retired by the Queensland Police Service (QPS). The majority of those medical retirements have been initiated by the QPS in circumstances where the officer is suffering from symptoms which preclude them returning to first response policing.

Whereas previously officers who were not capable of returning to first response were accommodated within the QPS in alternate roles in recruitment, communications etc these opportunities no longer seem to be available.

Officers should be aware that if they are medically retired they have an entitlement to access Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) benefits pursuant to their QSuper policy.

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