Common Legal Questions

Question of the Week – Workers Compensation or Victims Compensation?

Adam asks:

I am a pharmacist in a small country NSW town. I had recently banned a woman with a drug problem from entry to the pharmacy.  Last month, she attacked me, tore through the shop – destroying property and stock and stole medication. The police initially charged her on 7 counts but the courts dropped it to 2 and she was out on bail right away. I am in the process of putting in place an AVO against her and her partner. I have also required medical attention and time off work as a result of the injuries sustained during her attack. Can I sue her for compensation in addition to the criminal charges she is facing?

Brydens Lawyers’ answer:

Given that the injuries sustained by you occurred during the course of your employment, (and assuming that you are an employee), you are entitled to make a claim on your employer’s workers compensation insurer. The benefits to which you are entitled include weekly benefits of compensation (wages) for periods of absence as well as reimbursement of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment expenses.

In some cases, you would be also entitled to claim lump sum compensation commensurate with the degree of permanent impairment that results from the injuries. In addition to same, you would have a common law action in assault available as against the perpetrator. Of course, any compensation that you receive from the workers compensation insurer would have to be reimbursed to that insurer from any damages that you recover from the perpetrator. There is a prohibition on “double dipping”. However, what would be of more concern, is whether there would be any prospects of recovering any judgment monies from the perpetrator. That is, although the claim may be successful and you are awarded damages for the injuries which you have sustained a question then arises as to whether the perpetrator has any capacity to pay those judgment monies. One other alternative is to make a claim through the Victims Compensation Tribunal for the injuries which you have sustained. Again however it is not open to you to retain both benefits under the workers compensation scheme and compensation from the Victims Compensation Tribunal.

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