Why one former cop is going to criminal court over compensation



Traumatised police officer takes criminal action after case manager EML dragged out workers’ compensation claim  A former police officer who suffered “horrific and graphic traumas” from being trapped in a crashed squad car has launched criminal action after being forced to wait more than a year for a workers’ compensation payout.    Julie Heise was travelling at high speed in a police vehicle near Newcastle in 2009 when it rolled and she became stuck inside the crumpled wreckage. She suffered physical and psychological injuries as a result of the crash and was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.  Ms Heise was discharged by NSW Police in 2015 and lodged a workers’ compensation claim in 2017, only to be dragged through a year-long process by the case manager Employers Mutual Limited (EML). Under New South Wales workers’ compensation laws, failure to decide on a claim within two months is a criminal offence and attracts a fine of $5,500.  Ms Heise has since taken the extremely rare step of launching a private criminal prosecution against EML. Cop left traumatised by crash   EML declined to comment on the case, but court documents make clear the company does not dispute that Ms Heise’s injuries were caused by her employment. According to a psychiatric assessment carried out as part of her compensation claim, after returning to work following the crash she was exposed to “repeated horrific and graphic traumas … in the course of her subsequent general duties”. EML will not say whether it has made a determination on Ms Heise’s claim, and the company has not explained why it delayed the process.   The case is now on track to proceed to trial after the NSW Supreme Court threw out an application from EML to have Ms Heise’s prosecution ruled invalid. A spokesperson for EML said the company was unable to comment as the matter was still before the courts. Neither EML nor the workers’ compensation authority, iCare, publish data on the amount of time injured workers have to wait for a determination.  But in just the first two months of this year, the Workers Compensation Independent Review Office (WIRO) received more than 250 complaints about delays in case managers deciding on claims.  EML was among the companies complained about.    David Shoebridge, a Greens member of the NSW Upper House who has pushed for reforms to the workers’ compensation system, said Ms Heise’s case highlighted the reluctance of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) to prosecute breaches of the act. “I’ve had hundreds of injured workers contact my office about failures of insurance companies to comply with the law,” he said. “I find it astounding that there hasn’t been a single instance where SIRA has stepped up and prosecuted for these obvious breaches of the law.  “Instead, we have an individual, in the middle of their case, having to deal with the trauma of being injured, also having to deal with the additional stress of prosecuting the in

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