When am I entitled to claim compensation for a personal injury?

As a general rule, you must commence court action for compensation for personal injury within three (3) years from the date of the incident or when the symptoms of the injury become known.

Background

In a recent New South Wales court decision, Leigh Anne Mullens injured her back whilst working as a nurse repositioning a patient in bed.

As a result of her injury, she had difficulty completing her day-to-day chores, and she could no longer work.

In 2007 Ms Mullens’ doctor recommended that she have surgery in an attempt to ease her pain. However, in the 12 month period following the surgery, Ms Mullens’ condition worsened and she began to realise the true nature and extent of her injury.

In 2009 Ms Mullens sought legal advice in relation to securing the costs of the surgery from worker’s compensation. Her solicitor advised her that, unbeknownst to Ms Mullens, she also had a right to bring a common law claim for damages against her former employer and the hospital in which she worked at, as a result of her injury.

In early 2010 Ms Mullens commenced legal proceedings seeking compensation from the hospital in relation to her injury. The hospital, in opposing Ms Mullens claim argued that she had missed her window of opportunity to claim compensation and her claim should be dismissed.

Decision

The court found that Ms Mullens did not realise that her injury was sufficiently serious to justify seeking legal action until after her surgery in 2007. As a result, her three year window commenced in 2007 and was still open to her to pursue her claim.

If you have suffered a personal injury whilst at work or otherwise, you may be entitled to compensation. For further information contact:

Matthew Bridger | e: mbridger@elringtons.com.au | p: 02 6206 1300 http://elringtons.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Specialist-accreditaion.jpg