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Richard Dababneh on 2GB with Debra Knight discussing personal injury

Richard Dababneh providing Q & A on the 2GB Afternoon Show with Debra Knight discussing personal injury – 18 February 2020

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 


DK –Debra Knight /RD – Richard Dababneh /C1,2,3, etc – Callers 



DK      Oh goodness me. Yep $12,000 on the line for our cash call. Keep listening to win very big. Let’s see if we can do it today. Now there was a big debate of course at the height of the bushfire crisis, should we compensate volunteer firefighters? Should they be paid? Should they be given a tax break or even grants from the government as an option? Now it was just before New Years that the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison bowed to the pressure and announced that volunteer firefighters in NSW would be apply for up to $6,000 in compensation and I think we should be compensating these volunteer firefighters, that’s my personal view. They shouldn’t be out of pocket. I know the fire season – it’s not 6 weeks anymore, its 6 months and the volunteer ethos it underpins the work that they do but if a volunteer firefighter does wish to be compensated, they should be given that opportunity, they shouldn’t be left out of pocket. But what other options are there for compensation for people like volunteer firefighters? And what about those injured? If they warrant compensation as well – maybe you are a volunteer firefighter – you know a volunteer firefighter struggling to get that compensation, I’d love to hear from you – 131 873 is the number and that is the topic of our Legal Matters this week.  And be mindful that the laws are different across states  – so if you’re question is quite specific – we may need to put you in contact with Turner Freeman directly but as always, we have our $100 Westfield voucher to give away to the caller who asks the most relevant question of our Legal Matters segment this Tuesday and Richard Dababneh is the accredited specialist in personal injury law. He is a partner at Turner Freeman’s Parramatta office and he is here with us in the studio. Richard – hi to you.

RD      Good afternoon.

DK      It is a big topic and there’s lots to cover and lots of people are interested in this and I wanted to talk first up about the volunteer firefighters because it is a volunteer ethos, a volunteer organisation, but should there be an opportunity for compensation if they wish and how do they access it?

RD      So the compensation that you are referring to is compensation for loss of income because these firefighters or these volunteers were called in to work more than 10 days during the most recent bushfires. And certainly, that, I think it would be a fantastic for these firefighters because a lot of them are self-employed or employed – have other jobs and they would have lost significant amounts of money. It is capped obviously, but the things that I want to talk about today were a bit more specific to those volunteers who are actually injured whilst performing this work – this very dangerous work – and it’s how the government has actually done the right thing by these workers – by reforming the laws in their favour.

DK      So what sort of entitlements are available them?

RD      So volunteers have essentially the same entitlements as any other worker. In fact, in NSW they have rights to more compensation and they have protections from certain changes that affected other workers which came in a few years back. They’ve also got presumptions in their favour in terms of diseases – cancers in particular – when they contract those serious diseases – there’s presumptions that those diseases were in fact caused by their employment – they don’t need to then go to the expense and the difficulty of actually trying to prove it.

DK      Because that’s interesting because there are obviously health risks associated with something like firefighting by its very nature – but the change in the law effectively means that if you do develop this certain form of cancer, how does it practically work in terms of getting that compensation?

RD      So with any workers who contract diseases, they need to be able to show that the disease was caused or substantially contributed to by their employment. So with firefighters – volunteers or paid – they don’t need to prove that – all they need to prove is that they were employed /engaged by the Fire Service and they’ve contracted a disease – that disease in particular – now…… the law is specific to certain types of cancer – so you need to have been working for the Fire Brigade for a certain number of years – but subject to you ticking those boxes, you’ll get compensated and the onus actually falls back on the employer to then try and disprove essentially that the cancer was caused by them.

DK      Yes – welcome change in the laws – that is for sure – you might be a volunteer firefighter or know someone who is or perhaps you are a volunteer in general and you’ve got a question, now is the time to make your call – Richard Dababneh is here with Turner Freeman Lawyers – 131 873 is the number – free legal advice effectively for you. Wayne is on the line in Blakehurst with a question to do with a car accident Wayne?

Caller 1 -Wayne

Wayne Ah yes – I was a pedestrian – I was hit by a vehicle back on New Year’s Eve in 2017 and I’m just wondering – how long these normally take to go through? Because I am still waiting – I’ve been to so many doctors and so forth being checked by different people – I’m just wondering if there’s a rule of thumb of how long it should take for these things to go through?

RD      The short answer is “no” – there’s no rule of thumb. Depending on the severity of the injury, it might take twelve (12) months at least before the injury is properly stabilised for an assessment to actually take place…. so you know before you can go out and actually ask for an amount of compensation, you need to know the extent of the damage that has been caused and generally in that first 12 months it’s very difficult to ascertain that and it might in fact be dangerous to ascertain that because you know injuries change and develop and deteriorate and the likes.

Wayne Yes.

RD      So, coming to New Year’s Eve 2017…. look it’s you know these types of cases might take a couple of years if they are not disputed, if there’s no major disputes with the insurance companies but if there are – you know – certainly I’m involved in a case at the moment that’s hitting a decade now…. in our 10th year…… of litigation – so hopefully – that’s obviously a very rare situation, but you know it unfortunately can happen.

DK      And is there any……. I hope that helps you Wayne. Did you have another question Wayne sorry?

Wayne Well after the last doctor that I went to, I’ve got a letter and they said that I am 15% incapacitated –whatever that is…..or something 15% loss of mobility or 15% plus….

RD      Whole person impairment perhaps?

Wayne Yes.

RD      So that’s a legal assessment on the severity of your injuries. So it’s actually quite a severe type of injury that you’ve got – it means that you are entitled to what’s called non-economic loss or pain and suffering compensation, so that’s a big step and it means certainly that the injury is stabilised enough for that assessment to take place – it means that you can start heading towards resolving the matter with the insurer.

DK      Alright, I hope that helps Wayne – and I also – in terms of that time limit – is there a time limit from when the injury occurred to when you can actually then make a claim?

RD      Certainly – yes – Different areas of personal injury have different time frames but with a car accident – in Wayne’s situation, it would have been required to put in a claim form – one claim form within 21 days – another one within 6 months and then if there’s a dispute, it needs to be filed in Court within 3 years – about a 3 year limitation period is the important one – because if you haven’t done that, then you might actually state barred.

DK      Okay – Jim’s with us in the Blue Mountains. You’re a volunteer firefighter yourself are you Jim?

Caller 2 – Jim

Jim      That’s right. Yes.

DK      And what’s your circumstance?

Jim      Okay – 4 years ago I got CLL – which is chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Now, after a CSIRO report, ———- TPE protective clothing and they found that they had amiloride (?) in the fire and anyhow so after that they’ve changed the uniform – but I went for the – I applied to the Government Scheme about compensation and they said – well sorry – it’s not retrospective – because it happened – it was detected 4 years ago – it’s only from when they moved the Bill.

DK      Well – – I wonder if Jim would be covered under this change to the legislation? Would that be something Richard that might apply?

RD      My understanding is that there are some specific circumstances which where the presumption will actually apply retrospectively – now I’m not entirely sure what those circumstances are and how it would work – it is a fairly new area – but it is certainly worth looking into – you know – leukaemia is one of the cancers that is specifically referred to in the Bill.

DK      We might get your details Jim and we’ll see if Richard can take a look at your specific case off air – perhaps you might be able to lend a hand here – so I’ll put you through the switch Jim and we’ll get your details.  We’ll take a short break and have more of your calls – If you’ve got a legal question – give us a call – 131873 – We’re talking legal matters with Turner Freeman – it’s 13 to 2 pm and 13 to 1 pm in Queensland.

131 873 is the number. If you’ve got a legal question – give us a call – Richard Dababneh is accredited specialist in personal injury law – he’s a partner at Turner Freeman’s Parramatta office and he is here with us in the studio taking your calls offering free legal advice – so if you have a question – give us a call now – 131 873. On the email actually on the issue of volunteer firefighters whether they should receive compensation – Anthony says “Jurors get a daily allowance – they get meals provided for sitting in an air-conditioned Court room – so why wouldn’t we compensate emergency workers who put their lives on the line to save others?” He thinks it makes sense and when you put it into that sort of context, it really does, doesn’t it?

RD      Yes – well it’s a public service at the end of the day – you know jurors are performing a service for the community and that’s essentially what volunteer firefighters are doing – so why shouldn’t they get an allowance?

DK      Yeah.

RD      I completely agree with it and I am glad that they brought it in – it’s probably you know – it’s probably too late but it’s at least it has happened.

DK      Well at least it is happening exactly. But in terms of the new laws covering the health risks associated with volunteers – people like firefighters – what other industries where you obviously face risks in going to work every day are not covered by this?

RD      Other than firefighters, there is no other industry which has a presumption in favour of the worker when it comes to diseases. Every other industry as a worker you need to be able to be able to prove that you’re employment was the cause of the disease that you’re contracting.

DK      So what…. police, ambos –

RD      Police, Ambos –

DK      Paid firefighters?

RD      Well no, paid firefighters and volunteer firefighters fall in the same category.

DK      Okay.

RD      Police and Ambos – they don’t have that presumption – but they do have other entitlements which other workers in the general community have or don’t have should I say… and that is when the laws changed in NSW a few years ago – there was a lot of lobbying – in particular by those emergency services personnel or their unions and the laws that changed to affect all the other workers would not apply to these exempt workers, police, firies……..

  1. In NSW?

RD      In NSW – yes.

DK      Do you think that should change?

RD      It makes it very complicated and in hindsight the changes haven’t been as drastic to the general population so perhaps it wasn’t as important to exempt the emergency services personnel but you know – it’s an acknowledgement I suppose that they – every single day go out there and risk their lives for the community that they work within.

DK      Absolutely

RD      So – you know I certainly don’t disagree with it – you know – it means that they don’t have – if they’re injured and they can’t actually go back to work – their entitlement to wages continues whereas every other injured person has a cut-off date at some point in time.  So you know to that extent I think it is very important.

DK      Yes – it’s a complex area – you might have a question for Turner Freeman Lawyers and they are the experts in this – unfortunately we have run out of time for this segment as we always do, but Turner Freeman Lawyers – they provide the range of specialised legal services, compensation, negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, employment law, Wills and estates and property law and if you want to get in touch with Richard Dababneh or any of the other lawyers at Turner Freeman, you can do so and their website’s got all the information – – you can call 13 43 63 – and who do you reckon?  Jim?  Should we give that $100 Westfield Voucher to Jim as the best caller for the today?

RDA   Yes – absolutely.

DK      And we will try and help him out with some legal advice as well – good on you – thank you so much for coming in.

RDA   Thanks.

DK      Richard Dababneh there from Turner Freeman Lawyers. Debra Knight with you here on Afternoons.