Everyone has a a long day at work once in a while; however, if employers push staff beyond their normal responsibilities, there is a chance the consequences could be quite pricey.

For matters related to worker compensation, sound legal choices can go a long way.

This was certainly the case with Michelle Zealley, a former employee of Liquorland who suffered a back injury due to being asked to do a job outside her usual duties. In a landmark decision, the judge awarded her compensation of a whopping $1.3 million.

The incident

In 2006, Ms Zealley’s supervisor asked her to unload roll cages filled with cartons of bottles from a Linfox delivery truck. This task was beyond the scope of her job and she was not appropriately trained for it. Neither of them realised that the vehicle was incorrectly stacked by the driver.

As Ms Zealley set about to do the job, the driver suddenly let go of a cage – which she ended up grabbing. Unfortunately, this led to severe back injuries.

What happened after the accident? 

Following the incident, the employee’s doctor advised her to take time off and work reduced hours, as well as perform limited duties upon her return.

However, as soon as she went back her injuries flared up.

Ms Zealley said given the nature of her duties it became impossible to stick to the restrictions her doctor had suggested. Thus began a cycle – she would take time off and return to work with increased hours and her pain would get worse, taking longer to subside each time.

During this, she was left on her own to manage the understaffed store. Ms Zealley says she was being pushed much beyond her limits and finally called it quits after working three consecutive 12-hour days.

The back injury together with the extra work took a toll on her health and she was diagnosed with depression combined with a worsening of her physical symptoms.

What did the victim decide to do?

Ms Zealley brought an action in negligence against her employer and the delivery company.

While Liquorland argued that the Linfox driver was inept, the latter pushed that the initial injuries were not that serious and would have healed if the victim stuck to her restricted hours.

The court ruled both parties would have to split the million-dollar payout.

Worker compensation is an area of law that protects you if you have been injured at work. It covers your loss of earnings and medical expenses. To make sure you make a successful claim that results in the full reimbursement you are entitled to, use legal professionals who have vast experience in the field.