It was the beginning of 2019 when Jenny, 60, began experiencing unusual symptoms like back pain, lethargy, headaches and hip pain.
Jenny had been working as a commercial cleaner for 17 years, where she cleaned scientific instruments and laboratory materials, including the removal of cytotoxic waste. Because of the high risk some of these chemicals exposed, Jenny was required to have a blood test every three to six months.
In August 2019, after her symptoms continued to worsen, it became too difficult to work and Jenny resigned from the job she took great pride in doing.
After seeing a doctor, Jenny was told her blood count was dangerously low and she needed to go straight to emergency.
She was admitted to hospital under the care of a haematologist, and after some further testing, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. This was in November 2019, but she was told her blood tests as early as March that same year revealed serious abnormalities.
What then began for Jenny was a series of hospital stays and several rounds of chemotherapy.
It was not until July 2020 that Jenny’s son, Jayden, contacted Maurice Blackburn to get some advice. He was really concerned about his mum and had done some research into her condition and thought her work may have been the cause.
Jenny was very reluctant to seek any legal advice, however, Jayden himself had recently gone through a road injury claim with us and knew we were the right firm to help her.
Once Jenny agreed to let us help, our lawyer Emily Ormerod set to work. After some research, Emily found supportive studies that demonstrated a causative link between her chemical exposure at work and her diagnosis.
Emily then rang Jenny’s doctor to discuss her findings. The doctor asked to see the studies, and eventually, provided a supportive report agreeing that her exposure to a range of chemicals through her work would have increased her risk of developing multiple myeloma.
Being able to demonstrate the link between her work and her illness, Emily knew Jenny could be eligible for compensation.
“We initially submitted Jenny’s claim for weekly payments and medical expenses which was accepted. When I told Jenny, she was relieved. This meant she didn’t need to worry about how she was going to support herself and pay for her medical bills, she could just focus on her health and recovery,” says Emily.
“We then submitted her Impairment Benefit claim, but not long after she was rushed back to hospital with pneumonia. We managed to fast-track her claim and quickly received the decision that the claim had been accepted. Jenny was very emotional when I told her the news and so thankful. We spent the rest of the call talking about what nice things she was going to do for herself when she got out of hospital.”
The insurer had accepted the claim and Jenny was given a ‘whole person impairment’ of 95%, which meant she would receive the statutory maximum in compensation for her pain and suffering under the Workers Compensation legislation, approximately $640,000.
“I knew the money could not change Jenny’s diagnosis but to be able to tell her she had a financial safety net for whatever she may need in the future meant so much and really highlighted for me why I do this work. Jenny does not deserve to be in this position but she does deserve to get all the help she can to get through it,” says Emily.
COVID-19 restrictions were in place, so Jenny wasn’t allowed visitors while in hospital. Her son Jayden would come by and stand outside her window to keep her company and support his mum through this process.
Emily says this client story demonstrates the importance of persevering with what can first seem like a tricky case, and how working with a client’s healthcare team, in this case her treating doctor, can make all the difference.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.