A Tasmania Police officer who suffered a cervical spine injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after being assaulted in 2007 has won the right to claim compensation for PTSD, after it was initially denied in the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal.
Dennis Stephen Coad was entitled to $10,160 lump sum compensation for the spinal injury, but none for PTSD after it was found that it did not meet the threshold for "whole person impairment" and could not be combined with the physical injury.
He appealed this, and the Supreme Court found in favour of Mr Coad in a 2-1 ruling on Wednesday.
Mr Coad was assaulted in the line of duty on January 28, 2007, and he was given permission to seek compensation.
The impairment from his spine injury was agreed to be 5 per cent, while the impairment from PTSD was 6 per cent based on a psychiatric assessment.
Mr Coad believed this meant his total whole person impairment was 11 per cent, and so he claimed for more than $28,000.
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But the tribunal found that, under the relevant Act, he could only claim for the spine injury as it was above the 5 per cent threshold for physical injury claims, but the PTSD did not reach the psychiatric threshold of 10 per cent, and they could not be combined.
On appeal, the full bench of the Supreme Court analysed the intent and wording of the Act to determine if they could be combined to reach 11 per cent.
Justice Helen Wood found that because Mr Coad had crossed one of the thresholds, there was scope for the psychiatric impairment to be added.
"Once either of those hurdles is met, the provision that is made for a combination of impairments to be assessed together would allow a psychiatric and a physical impairment to be combined," she said in her decision.
Justice Brian Martin dissented, and said the PTSD still needed to reach the 10 per cent impairment threshold to be added to the overall claim.
Justice Gregory Geason ruled in favour of the appeal however, and so it succeeded.
The final amount of compensation will be determined at a later date.