Only liars, frauds and cheats need apply

Posted: September 2, 2013 in Ranting
Tags: , , , ,

IMPORTANT UPDATE!

Someone who shall remain nameless was smart enough to realise that in my fury I misread the news article, hence this correction. The injury was not caused by woodchopping. The lumberjacking was something she admitted she had done for herself and a friend, after the injury that was supposedly so devastating she needed care 16 hours per day and help getting dressed. The injury was caused by lifting the box out of her car. The half-million was awarded because the employer had neglected to adequately train her in how to lift a box out of her car. But my statements about lies, fraud and the disgusting state of this workers’ compensation system otherwise still stand.

The state of public sector workers compensation in Australia has now reached what are surely unprecedented levels of lunacy.

In a case just finalised by the courts, as reported by the Canberra Times, one Sonia Jean Sutherland had sought compensation for damaging her back while lifting a box of files out of her car. The extent of the injury was so bad that for a year she needed daily assistance for 16 hours per day and still required daily assistance well beyond that for things like getting dressed. The poor woman. Except for one thing – it was all bullshit!

The court found that the injury actually occurred while using a chainsaw and collecting wood. Sutherland was employed as a disability support worker, so it is hard to see how being a lumberjack was part of her insurable work activities. As for the extent of the injuries, evidence was presented showing her, as little as five months after the injury, engaging in activities that the alleged symptoms should have kept her from doing.

In short, Sutherland lied through her teeth throughout the entire process from day one. To any reasonable person (a crucial distinction in much of our law) these deliberate deceptions were clearly intended for her personal gain. Isn’t that rather like fraud? Yet despite these lies and deceptions, the court awarded Sutherland $507,223.34 plus costs! She has been rewarded by the courts for being a damned liar and a fraud!!

This outrageous result comes not long after another absolute travesty. In this earlier gem a public servant was interstate on departmental business and stayed overnight in a motel. While in the motel, she was injured while having sex. Reports emerged that this bonking session was so vigorous that motel room fittings were damaged.

Not surprisingly, the insurer, Comcare, told this claimant to get lost. But in absolute insanity, a subsequent Tribunal hearing to review the case found in her favour, despite the sexual shenanigans having nothing to do with the business the public servant was there for and being conducted on their own time after the said governmental business.

Now I am anything but a fan of Comcare yet I thoroughly support their attempts to have this Shagger’s Back case overturned in the courts.

For the time being, as matters now stand due to these two cases, a public servant can travel on the public purse, stay in accommodation on the public purse, have an orgy resulting in a severe case of Shagger’s Back (not to mention pulling things like light fittings out during the sexual gymnastics), lie through their teeth and pull fraudulent stunts to increase the financial worth of the case and confidently expect to be rewarded with a cool half-million spondulicks.

Now while this insanity is going on, genuine cases get stamped on. My harsh experience is that:

  • An employer is allowed to withhold relevant documentation from a claim assessment process and sign a statement that has the effect of wrongfully denying the existence of said documentation;
  • Comcare are allowed to simply ignore evidence which blows an employer’s denials right out of the water;
  • Even if Comcare do find the injury to be a work-related injury but initially deny compensation on a technicality (said technicality only coming into play because of the employer’s stunts), the employer is allowed to deny, both verbally and in writing, that Comcare found any workplace link to be present – as a direct result the employer is empowered to then take actions that are further detrimental to the employee’s health and welfare.

In respect of the latter point above, when I literally begged Comcare for help with the continuing wrongful denials by my employer, assistance was refused and I was told ‘we can’t help it if they can’t read.’ While taking matters towards a hearing at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, I made a written request of Comcare’s solicitors for help on this point. Other than confirming receipt of the letter, they did not even bother responding. So clearly that stunt has their approval as well.

After that you come to the dirty tricks campaign. If, like me, your injury is a psychiatric one, then changes to the law in 2006 make realising a successful claim a damned sight harder. This was a result of a) a deliberate cost-cutting exercise by the Howard government which specifically targeted psychiatric injuries among certain others and b) a ridiculous case sent to the Full Federal Court which resulted in greatly increased wriggle room for Comcare to get out of it. As a direct result, for many such circumstances it is now damned hard to find legal eagles prepared to take it on (presumably they wouldn’t mind if they were on a retainer). So the poor bastard with the mental health injury has to do it all themselves. And that makes it so damned easy for Comcare, via their solicitors, to rip right into the dirty tricks. Some cases in point – those solicitors were strangely reluctant to hand over documentation now in their possession and it took intervention from a representative from the AAT to pry it loose from their grimy fingers. And no wonder they didn’t want it out – significant pieces of it supported my case and shot yet more holes in the employer’s response to the claim. They seemed to be trying to hide it in hope I would give up on trying to get hold of it. Further, the same documentation included some allegations against me – which I was able to immediately provide documentary evidence proving it to be a complete fabrication.

The next dirty stunt was to send me off to their pet psychiatrist for an alleged ‘independent’ review. But when I arrived for my interview, the shrink didn’t know a damned thing about me. The solicitors had not provided her with any information at all, let alone the files that were supposed to have been delivered. So the resulting interview was an absolute farce. When I tried to give her documentation in support of my case, including medical documentation, the shrink flatly refused to even look at it. When the ‘assessment’ finally came out, what a piece of garbage! Denials of things Comcare had already found to be so. Denials of medical evidence held by Comcare and previously quoted in their finding. Making findings that would have been contradicted by my documentation that the shrink refused to accept. A cynic might have thought it was a nice piece written to satisfy the one paying the bills rather than any form of ‘independence.’

In a conference at the AAT, Comcare’s solicitor reluctantly agreed to a subsidiary assessment – but only if I first obtained my own independent assessment. I was acting for myself and didn’t have a hope in hell of paying for that sort of thing – and they knew it!

The dirty tricks campaign worked. The detrimental effect on my mental health forced me to withdraw (or end up back in the nuthouse). But every attempt to blow the whistle to authorities on this collection of travesties was rebuffed. My former CEO was even allowed to get away with delaying delivery of crucial material until after the required deadline resulting in denial of any formal review. Even the Ombudsman came up with increasingly weak reasons why they should ignore it all, even though I had evidence of my beloved former employer wilfully ignoring other findings from the AAT (which found specific management practices to be injurious to employee health and thus impacting on potentially many staff). But of course I have previously ranted about what a sham the Ombudsman can be eg you have a legal right to appeal a finding of the Privacy Commissioner to the Ombudsman, only to discover that the Ombudsman’s office refuse to look at privacy cases (been there, done that as well – again due to employer stunts).

Clearly our ever more screwed up public sector worker’s compensation scheme now only rewards liars, frauds and ridiculous stunts on the employee’s own time. The genuinely injured come a far distant last place.

Sonia Jean Sutherland gets a cool half-million for being a lying fraud – and I lose pretty much everything. That will teach me to be a simpleton and think honesty is rewarded.

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