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Damages awarded for physical and psychological injury

Harris v State of Queensland [2014] QDC 35

Long SC, DCJ

28 February 2014

Liability was admitted by the employer, but a psychiatric injury, which arose after the physical workplace injury, led to the trial to judge the amount of damages.


The worker (plaintiff) was an admissions clerk at the Maryborough Correctional Centre at the time of her workplace injury. On 30 October 2009 whilst on a walkway at that centre, the plaintiff was struck from behind by a trolley that was being used by another employee. She suffered ruptured ligaments in her left ankle.

After this injury was initially not diagnosed, with a period of non-beneficial physiotherapy being endured by the plaintiff, her ruptured ligaments were surgically repaired on 14 April 2010.

The plaintiff continues to present as suffering pain in her left lower limb, to such an extent that she has not been able to return to any work. She claims to be hampered and limited in respect of mundane ordinary activities of life.

In addition to her physical injuries, the plaintiff claims a depressive illness, as evidenced by symptoms that emerged in March or April 2011.


Liability for that incident and for that physical injury was admitted by the defendant. However, the plaintiff's claim was also made for a psychiatric condition or injury, described as depression. The plaintiff was seeking compensation by way of damages, for the entire composite state of her resultant condition from this incident.


The plaintiff's argument that 'but for' the injury she would have sought employment within the Correctional Centre as a prison officer, at a greater level of remuneration than her previous administrative role, was rejected by the court.

However, judgment of $311,708.97 was awarded for the plaintiff, clear of the WorkCover refund. This included $143,005 for past economic loss and $100,000 for future economic loss.