FACEBOOK PHOTO SINKS COMPO CLAIM

An injured worker's claim for permanent impairment compensation has been challenged due to a Facebook photo of the worker playing hockey. The worker didn't mention playing hockey to the doctor during his permanent impairment assessment (PIA), and this omission was crucial.

The worker injured his foot while working with a rubbish truck in 2020. He later claimed an 11 percent whole person impairment (WPI) due to restricted movement in his left ankle and surgical scarring. The employer disputed the claim, arguing that the left ankle impairment was not related to the work injury.

During the dispute, a Facebook photo surfaced showing the worker playing hockey in 2021, which he had not disclosed to the PIA doctor. The doctor, upon seeing the photo, concluded that the worker's assessment was irregular and unreliable, as it contradicted the information provided.

The worker had argued that he didn't mention hockey because he wasn't playing it at the time of the assessment, and the doctor didn't specifically ask about his recreational activities from the previous year.

However, the tribunal found the worker's actions resulted in irregularities in the PIA process and ordered further assessment to determine the degree of impairment accurately. The Facebook photo played a significant role in unravelling the worker's case.

Source: Lawrence v Veolia Environmental Services (Australia) Pty Ltd [2023] SAET 87 (29 September 2023)

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