The Magistrates Court recently found that a WorkCover Claims Agent – Xchanging, was liable for the costs associated with the provision of a scooter trailer in a work injury case.
The Worker, Terry Cooper, had sustained a severe back injury in 1991 after falling from a ladder. He had subsequently undergone a lumbar fusion operation at L4/5 and L5/S1 and had significantly reduced mobility as well as a serious psychological injury, including chronic major depression and panic disorder. He had been off work and in receipt of weekly payments since the injury in 1991.
Mr Cooper had moved to Raymond Island as he had been suicidal and had a support network on the island. Xchanging had agreed to pay for a motorised scooter, a Queen-sized bed, toilet frame, hand rail in shower, hand held shower, computer chair and an extra 1.5 hours of home help a fortnight.
X changing then refused a request to pay for a scooter trailer on the grounds that it was not reasonable in the circumstances; the scooter was of no benefit to him; and it would be unlikely to assist in increasing his ability to function or his work capacity. Mr Cooper argued that he needed the scooter trailer as his support network was no longer on the island and he needed to visit friends elsewhere as he was “going mad” and feeling confined.
The Magistrate said that in determining whether the Claims Agent was liable for the scooter trailer he had to look at “whether the scooter trailer is an aid that is reasonably and necessarily required having regard to the nature and extent of the injuries sustained by Mr Cooper and their impact on his activities of daily living.”
In this case, after considering all the evidence, the Magistrate found that because the scooter trailer would be beneficial for Mr Cooper, in so far as his mobility, independence and ability to socially interact was concerned and further, because it may assist in reducing the impact of his psychiatric injury and it was supported on medical grounds by his treating GP and psychiatrist, the Claims Agent should pay for the scooter trailer.
Decision of:Magistrate S Garnett in Terry Cooper v VWA  VMC024