Woman Awarded Injury Compensation for an Office Accident
A woman, who injured her back when the chair she was sitting on broke, has been awarded more than Au$1million in injury compensation for an office accident by a judge in Australia.
Fifty-one year old Terry Anne Downie from Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory worked as a team leader for the Community Information and Referral Service when, on behalf of her employers, she purchased office furniture – including a chair for her own use in the office – from the furniture outlet store Fyshwick.
Several months later, Terry Anne was talking on the telephone in the office, when two of the spokes on the plastic moulding at the base of her chair snapped, causing her to fall to the floor and land on her back. Unable to move, Terry Anne was taken to hospital, where it was discovered that the accident had caused a disc to swell and that Terry Anne´s immobility was caused by the disc touching a nerve root in her spine.
Doctors were unable to repair the damage to Terry Anne´s spine, and she now suffers from a permanent tingling sensation under the skin of her legs which has prevented her from maintaining a job since her accident. Her doctors believe that the formerly active Terry Anne has suffered a mental illness and sexual dysfunction as a direct result of her office accident.
Terry Anne received injury compensation for an office accident from her employer amounting to Au$190,000 in 2005 but, backed by the Community Information and Referral Service, she also made a private claim for injury compensation for an office accident against the company that imported the faulty chair from China in kit form – Jantom – and their insurers, claiming that the product was faulty when it was brought into the country in kit form.
Jantom and their insurers denied their responsibility for Terry Anne´s injuries but Judge Master David Harper, at the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, found in favour of the plaintiff after hearing an expert testify that the plastic moulding on the base of the chair had “failed catastrophically” and had been responsible for two of the five supporting spokes breaking.
The judge awarded Terry Anne Au$933,030 injury compensation for an office accident to reflect the pain she experienced at the time of her accident and thereafter, and a further Au$112,000 to cover past medical expenses and those she is likely to incur in the present. Janton´s insurers were also ordered to repay the Community Information and Referral Service the injury compensation for an office accident that had been paid to Terry Anne in 2005.
Speaking after making the award, Judge Master David Harper said “Terry Anne has many years ahead of pain and depression. Her life is very different to the life she could have expected if it had not been for her injury. Her enjoyment of life, and the kind of life she is able to lead, have been altered immeasurably.”