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Case 44

On 13 May 2008 the worker made an application for compensation in relation to lower back and later right leg knee which allegedly resulted when he tripped and fell at work on 24 April 2008 while sandblasting steel beams. He was paid compensation between 25 April 2008 and 29 October 2008.

On 25 March 2010 the worker lodged a Notice of claim for damages. During the common law claim process, the worker presented himself as severely incapacitated as a result of the alleged workplace accident.

The treating psychiatrist noted that the worker exhibited pain behaviour throughout the interview that had not been present when he was sitting in the waiting room. The treating orthopaedic specialist noted that the worker made representations about his pain which were not consistent with his previous presentation or his representations to the treating psychiatrist.

Investigations were undertaken which showed the worker went from attending one medical appointment heavily dependent on a walking stick and moving in odd ways, to shortly thereafter walking back to his vehicle in a normal manner without the aid of a walking stick.

After viewing surveillance the treating orthopaedic specialist advised that the worker appeared to be entirely normal with no evidence of impairment or functional incapacity. He went on to advise that there was very significant exaggeration and embellishment of symptoms and that the worker had made a full recovery from any alleged injury that he sustained as a result of the accident on 24 April 2008.

The treating psychiatrist advised that the worker's presentation on surveillance was completely inconsistent with what was reported to him both physically and psychologically. He also confirmed that the worker's behaviour in the surveillance was not consistent with a person suffering a pain disorder associated with psychological factors.

The worker was charged with attempting to defraud WorkCover to which he pleaded guilty. On 13 December 2013 he was sentenced to four months imprisonment wholly suspended for a period of two years. He was ordered to pay substantial costs and his common law claim was extinguished.