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Some injuries can’t be seen – Linking physical and mental pain to build Neil a new life

3 minute read

Workers' compensation

When Neil approached Shine for help with a workers’ compensation claim, he expected just one lawyer’s advice. What he didn’t expect was a whole team of legal experts to take him under their wing, rally together and stand up to help him get his life back on track.

Neil’s job was physically intense - he installed heavy office printers for banks. After many weeks of prolonged heavy lifting and bending Neil suffered a severe back injury, leaving him with chronic pain. Under the financial pressure, Neil continued to work, battling his pain before he finally couldn’t take it anymore.

Leanne McDonald was the first solicitor at Shine to take on Neil’s case. Moved by his character, Leanne could see he was really struggling and became a comforting and stable support for Neil and his family.

Not long after Neil’s claim commenced, Leanne received a call from his parents who explained that their son had attempted suicide and the aftermath was devastating; he had side effects like that of a stroke, including paralysis down one side, short-term memory loss, and a speech impediment. He now needed help looking after himself and his parents were about to retire.

The suicide attempt significantly changed the grounds for his workers’ compensation claim. Leanne argued that without sustaining the work injury, Neil’s mental health would not have deteriorated to the point of becoming suicidal. There was no denying this was complicated to prove legally, but the team at Shine were up for the challenge.

Several Shine solicitors worked together on Neil’s claim to prove his injuries were connected; they had multiple court submissions, doctor’s appointments and medical evidence that had to be gathered.

Shine General Manager, Ben Wilcock stepped in at short notice to drive Neil to medical appointments, to ensure he was getting the help he needed. There were multiple paralegals who went the extra mile to obtain witness statements and Shine co-founder Stephen Roche assisted with case planning and strategy.

Neil had so many passionate people in his corner, focused on the same goal and ensuring he would get the justice he deserved, which paid off when his claim settled in mediation, and he was awarded more than a million dollars in compensation.

“As a team, we worked incredibly hard to obtain all the necessary medical evidence to link Neil's brain injury to his back injury. Neil’s case was a difficult one and it had some huge consequences for him and his parents if we didn’t succeed. Thankfully, we achieved a substantial result for a man who truly deserved it.”

Leanne McDonald

However, there was a catch to Neil’s compensation. Due to the extent of his injuries, the money was required to be managed by an independent trustee company. A few years later, he reached out to Shine again. This time, a man who had worked hard on his physical and mental health. He’d been to physio and psychological therapy and found an unexpected passion in Uber driving (with a 4.95-star rating!). He was now determined to prove to the courts that he had the capacity to look after his own finances. Tracey Ryan, our General Manager of Loss and Recovery litigation, stepped in to guide and represent Neil. She was honest and clear from the beginning about how difficult it was to overturn a Supreme Court decision, but she was in his corner and backed him 110%. Appearing in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) court, Tracey put forward her case with all the evidence of Neil’s journey and how far he’d come. As he sat in the courtroom, hands shaking and tears streaming down his face, Neil listened as the judge ruled in his favour, granting him his financial freedom. Neil had won his life back.

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