THE family of a man left with life-changing injuries after a car accident on Cargo Road is seeking legal advice to challenge the O’Farrell government’s changes to workers’ compensation laws - in what could be a first for the state.
James Cantrill was on his way to work at Central West Linen Service when he collided with a 4WD at the the intersection of Cargo and Lake Canobolas roads in August.
His employer, Ready Workforce, claimed for workers’ compensation from insurer CGU, but the family received a letter saying travel to-and-from work was no longer covered since the new laws were introduced on June 19.
His mother Christine Cantrill hoped to meet with Premier Barry O’Farrell, during his visit to Orange today, to explain her son’s situation and ask why he is no longer eligible for compensation.
But his spokesman said the Premier would be unable to schedule any additional meetings because of time constraints.
Mrs Cantrill said she was disappointed, as the changes affected everyone with many people unaware they were no longer covered.
“James is left with nothing, no vehicle, his life is ruined and he can’t even get workers’ compensation,” he said.
“It’s not as if we’re people out to get something, we’re looking after him and we’re paying all his medical bills.”
Mr Cantrill was left with bleeding on his brain, impaired vision and has suffered two strokes since his accident.
He wants to return to work as soon as he can, but will have to retrain for a desk job as doctors have told him he can no longer work physically.
“We’ve just paid $8000 to Westmead and every time he goes to the neurologist it’s $400, you only get $120 back,” Mrs Cantrill said.
“He’s got no income and no way of getting income.”
She said Mr Cantrill’s “shattered” employers and workmates have held fundraisers in his honour to contribute to ongoing medical costs.
WorkCover media officer Brad Matthews said workers were only eligible for journey claims when there was “a real and substantial connection between the employment and the accident or incident”.
“However, with car accidents the worker may have the option of claiming through compulsory third party (CTP) if another driver is found to be at fault.”
Mrs Cantrill said the fault of the the other driver was unable to be proven leaving Mr Cantrill out of pocket.
She wants the government to define what a “substantial connection” between the workplace and the accident means.
“We’re spending money with the solicitor and when you do things like this you can’t recoup it,” she said.
“But if it sorts things out for James that’s good.”
Mr O’Farrell’s spokesman agreed to pass on the family’s details to the minister responsible for WorkCover, Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce.
A CGU spokesman said the company does not comment on individual claims.