Woman Successful in Claim for Employer Medical Negligence following Appeal

A woman in Australia has been successful in her claim for employer medical negligence after the original decision to award her compensation was upheld in the Court of Appeal.

Michelle Strickland (53) from Macquarie Fields in Sydney brought her claim for employer medical negligence after having passed out while working on the crate-cleaning process line at Chep Australia’s Wetherill Park factory in November 2010.

Michelle was taken to hospital, where doctors discovered that an aneurysm in her brain had ruptured, causing potentially fatal bleeding. Michelle underwent two major brain surgeries within the following year, but was left suffering from facial paralysis and memory loss, and has difficulty maintaining a conversation.

During a subsequent check-up, Michelle´s GP identified a connection between her neurological injury and an anti-inflammatory drug she had been prescribed by her employer´s contracted doctor, to treat a repetitive strain injury she had developed due to working on the crate-cleaning process line for ten years.

Through her husband, Michelle made a claim for employer medical negligence against Chep Australia, alleging she had complained to the company´s doctor that taking the medication gave her headaches and made her eyes hurt, but the doctor had told her to stop working until the headache cleared and then start again.

Chep Australia denied Michelle´s allegations, claiming that there was no connection between Michelle´s aneurysm rupturing and her employment, and that her neurological injury was inevitable as Michelle had a history of high blood pressure and was a regular smoker.

However, the New South Wales Workers Compensation Commission found in Michelle´s favour and awarded weekly compensation for employer medical negligence plus a package to ensure all her medical expenses were covered.

Michelle´s employers fought the decision and took her claim for employer medical negligence to the New South Wales Court of Appeal in Sydney. The Court rejected Chep Australia´s appeal and upheld the original verdict made in Michelle´s favour.