The spectacular collapse last month of a “deceitful” plaintiff’s injury compensation claim was for once a magnificent vindication of the (usually unsubstantiated) suspicions that insurers invariably hold of workplace injury claimants.
Not that Jai Monger – a 30 yr old process worker who was injured in October 2008 on his first day on-the-job in Caloundra – would have been hard to spot as a chancer. Leaving aside his undistinguished pre-accident work history and convictions involving dishonesty, Monger concealed his regular post-injury gym sessions that sometimes occurred on the same day he denied them to his WorkCover case manager.
Combined with the to-be-expected inconsistent accounts of his injuries to doctors, the threats he made against a WorkCover assessor and the job network manager, he was “a particularly unimpressive witness in all respects”. But there is more to this sad tale. Monger was involved in a subsequent car accident after apparently attempting to evade payment of a taxi fare. And – as you probably guessed – he failed to disclose those injuries to the medical experts in this case.
WorkCover and its lawyers, McInnes Wilson, did not need to descend to covert surveillance to demolish this charlatan. According to his honour, Mr Monger was “a witness given to saying whatever he believed would assist this case”.
Having enjoyed Centrelink benefits for a nine-year pre-accident period, his disclosed earnings over that time averaged about $6.50 per week. The supreme court had no difficulty in finding that he was capable of earning “much more” in the future than he had before the accident.
The court assessed nil for future economic loss and noting “the impairment which the plaintiff has suffered as a result of the injury can only be described as modest”, general damages of $5,000. Special damages and past loss of income were allowed at slightly more than what WorkCover had already paid, giving a total of $21,000.
After taking into account the WorkCover refund, judgment was entered for the plaintiff for just $7,400. Being thankful for small mercies, the trial lasted only one day but unfortunately for our luckless plaintiff, he was also ordered to pay the defendant’s costs.