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Published: 22 September 2015
Author: Ryan Carlisle Thomas

Court decision breakthrough for recognising debilitating consequences of back injury

Lower back injuries are among the most common in today’s workforce, but the major implications that a back injury can have on a sufferer's everyday life can often be overlooked in legal decisions.

But a recent judgement gives renewed hope to sufferers wanting the consequences of their injury fully recognised.

Those with a back injury know that these consequences are wide ranging and often debilitating. However, the very significant effect that a back injury can have on everyday tasks can be easily overlooked.

A back injury can cause significant difficulty with many daily tasks that we take for granted. For example, it is common for back injuries to cause restrictions on sitting, standing, driving and household activities. These effects, while having a debilitating impact on people of all ages, are arguably more pronounced in a young person, as has been found in the County Court in the case of Quilty v Oz Staff P/L & WorkSafe Victoria.

Quilty v Oz Staff P/L & WorkSafe Victoria was an application by a young man, Nathan Quilty, who injured his lower back at work at the age of 25. He claimed that his back injury was a “Serious Injury”. His Honour Judge Jordan found that notwithstanding the fact that Mr Quilty’s pathology was in the “minor range” and he had returned to full time employment, the consequences to him were very considerable.

His Honour found that a limited tolerance for sitting and standing of 30 minutes before having to shift posture is “such an intrusion into everyday life from age 25 onwards to be a “serious” consequence.” He also found that a daily experience of pain and difficulties driving long distances were serious consequences.

This is a breakthrough case for workers as it recognises the very real consequences to everyday life of having a back injury, especially in a young person.

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