This case example demonstrates the importance of having your case thoroughly investigated by specialists.

We have changed the names to protect the confidentiality of the settlement.

Shane was working in a group on a farm cutting down trees along a path.

Some workers were cutting, others moving the felled trees and branches out of the way.

There was no system of work with regards to the use of ropes to guide felled trees or other measures to ensure workers would not be in the vicinity of heavy falling branches or trees.

The inevitable happened, Shane was inadvertently in the path of a falling tree. Despite his efforts to run out of the way, he was hit.

Thankfully he survived the impact, however, he was injured. He sustained an injury to his hip. A workers compensation claim was accepted and he received medical treatment and weekly benefits. He lodged a workers compensation common law claim and whilst liability was denied, the Insurer was pushing for early settlement.

Shane was (and still is) a tough farmer and worked through pain from the injury. However, Shane felt his injuries were getting worse over time, not better. We accordingly had Shane assessed by our doctor who, like us, was concerned about Shane’s ongoing and increasing symptoms and recommended he see a Specialist Treating Surgeon. We arranged for this to be totally funded by the Insurer.

Although Shane was struggling financially and wanted to settle his case, thankfully he accepted our advice to see a Specialist and have further assessments to make sure that all the injuries and effects of the injury were included in the settlement.

The surgeon diagnosed avascular necrosis which is a risk of this type of injury with delayed onset, up to two years after the injury.

What is avascular necrosis?

Avascular necrosis (AVN), also called osteonecrosis, aseptic necrosis, or ischemic bone necrosis, is a condition that occurs when there is loss of blood to the bone. If not stopped, this process eventually causes the bone to collapse. Avascular necrosis most commonly occurs in the hip.

This diagnosis unfortunately meant that Shane would eventually need a hip replacement. We were able to settle his case including damages for the additional effects of the injury which had not been diagnosed at the time the insurer wanted to settle the case. This included surgery, rehabilitation and time off work that would be required. As Shane was still young, he wanted to hold off on the surgery for as long as possible.

Top tip

Whilst recovering from and injury and undertaking rehabilitation can be a long process, frustrating and a huge financial strain, settling your case before your injuries have stabilised can have devastating consequences. Once you settle a common law claim, you cannot go back to claim more compensation if your injuries worsen. You need an expert lawyer to send you to the best specialist doctors to ensure that every contingency is considered. Don’t ignore an increase in symptoms, it may be a sign that something else is wrong.

With the informal settlement, Shane has a significant nest egg for his unfortunate likely need for future treatment and time off work.

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