High Court clarifies definition of injury

by HCA11 Jul 2016
The courts have upheld a long-relied upon definition of injury, ruling out that ‘dizziness’ can qualify, regardless of how suddenly it arises.

The case was heard in the High Court, on appeal from a Federal Court decision. In that Federal Court decision a former RAAF cadet had been found to suffer an injury because he had suffered symptoms consistent with vertigo, increasing as he underwent a series of vaccinations.

The High Court held that while injury includes sudden physiological change,  the the lower court had relied upon the ‘suddenness’ aspect rather than the change component.

The High Court held that in this case the respondent's subjective experience of feeling unwell did not constitute an injury, and said evidence was required that established the respondent had undergone physiological or psychiatric change.
 
The High Court held that the respondent's subjective experience of feeling unwell did not constitute an injury
 
The worker's complaints failed this test, the court said.

The High Court found that the earlier court's interpretation of the term ‘injury’, within the context of the statute was incorrect. The court said that injury can be read in its 'primary sense' as being 'a sudden and ascertainable or dramatic physiological change or disturbance of the normal physiological state'. But while suddenness may be indicative of an injury, it is not crucial to finding that an injury has been sustained when the focus should be on the physiological change.

The High Court has maintained the definition required of workers to demonstrate that they have sustained an injury.
 

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