Worker hit in head by billiard ball at cafe has compensation ruling overturned

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A worker hit in the head by a billiard ball at one of South Australia’s largest insurers says she can no longer work and deserves compensation.

However, the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) has stopped paying her, saying she has been cleared to go back to work as a motor claims officer.

It has won an order not to have to continue paying her.

The South Australian Employment Tribunal heard Susan Stoddard was hit with the ball on the left temple while she was eating lunch at the staff cafe at the RAA’s Mile End South headquarters on September 23, 2019.

“Ms Stoddard sustained an injury when she was struck by a billiard ball from a pool table in the cafe at the RAA premises,” a judgement by the tribunal states.

She made a claim immediately and was paid “interim payments” by the RAA while she was not working for the period of September 24 to December 7.

A square, yellow logo with the letters RAA
The RAA will not be required to continue payments, a tribunal has ruled.(ABC News)

After an examination by neurologist Tim Kleinig, the RAA advised Ms Stoddard on December 6 that his report found she had “a full capacity to work”.

It advised Ms Stoddard that it would accept her claim as injured from September 23 to November 21, but not from November 22 to December 7.

However, it would not seek to claw back the payments for the latter period.

Ms Stoddard appealed the decision and a tribunal commissioner told the RAA to continue to make payments to her.

Woman ‘unfit for work’

Ms Stoddard’s doctor based at SA Health’s Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre said Ms Stoddard was “unfit for work” and had “post-concussion syndrome”.

She continued to suffer from fatigue, sensory overload, memory impairment, dizziness and headaches, her doctor said, and would require treatment for at least three months.

The tribunal agreed with Ms Stoddard, at a January 23 hearing, that she should continue to receive payments until the matter was decided, but the RAA appealed and won in a decision handed down on Friday.

Tribunal president Steven Dolphin said the RAA’s move to discontinue payments was not officially a decision under the Return to Work Act, so the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to make the association continue to pay.

As interim payments, they did not mean the RAA was admitting liability in the case.

When contacted by the ABC, the RAA said it would not comment as the “matter is currently before the tribunal”.

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