Psychological Injuries: A shift in public perception?

Psychological Injuries: A shift in public perception?

On 31 March 2024, subsequent to the writing of this article, significant amendments to the WorkCover legislation in Victoria were introduced. These amendments may impact upon the relevance of the information contained in this article. For detailed information regarding the WorkCover amendments, please refer to Changes to WorkCover laws by the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Modernisation Act 2023.

As personal injury lawyers, we are noticing the increasing volume of cases involving psychological injuries sustained in the course of employment.

Some factors may include:

Psychological injuries are notoriously difficult to prove in the realm of WorkCover Law. It is no secret that the legislation and case law impose strict additional hurdles to workers who attempt to claim damages for their psychological injuries. Whilst we prepare, advocate and act with all due skill care and responsibility for our clients, the determination of our client’s case can ultimately end up in the hands of a jury. Juries are comprised of ordinary members of society and likely will hold their own opinions and/or experiences regarding psychological injuries.

In our continuously changing society, where professional attitudes toward workplace bullying and harassment have shifted to complete intolerance, it is important to contemplate how the broader society perceives the impact of these attitudes on workplace culture and individual well-being.

Case study

Our firm recently represented a worker who had sustained a severe psychological injury in the course of their employment which drastically and negatively impacted their life. As a result, the worker was unable to return to work for several years. The worker sought damages on the basis that the Defendant’s bullying behaviour caused the worker’s psychological injury.

Following an extended trial, the case resulted in a hung jury. This means that the jury could not come to a unanimous decision. This prompted us to consider whether the case may be a depiction of the disparity in societal attitudes towards workplace bullying and the justification for damages in the given circumstances. Of course, the facts of every case are different. However, it is important, as solicitors advocating for our clients' rights, to consider the perspectives members of society may adopt when making their decisions.

If you or someone you know has sustained a psychological injury during the course of employment, it’s important you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Redlich’s offer a free, no-obligation consultation. Contact our advice line to speak to a member of our legal team on (03) 9321 9988 or submit an online enquiry today.

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