coal mine
coal mine Jessica Dorey

Work Cover denied miner surgery for two years

A FORMER coal miner seeking workers compensation was denied permission from Work Cover to undertake a much needed surgery for two years.

Instead of waiting, in pain, for the workers compensation matter to be finalised in court, the miner raised the $25,000 himself and had the operation 10 months prior to his trial.

The trial is set for June this year and lawyers for the coal miner and the coal mine argued in the Supreme Court of Rockhampton on March 10 about medical reports now needed before proceeding to trial.

Barrister AJ Williams, on behalf of John Andrew Riemer, explained to the court the disagreement with regards to the type of medical examination Riemer needed to undertake before trial to help determine the level of compensation.

The court heard the representatives for the coal mine only heard about the shoulder replacement surgery, which Riemer underwent in August, during a meeting in February.

Prior to the operation, Riemer was unable to swim due to the extent of the injury.

The court heard that since the operation, Riemer has retained 'almost full range of movement' of his shoulder and had even been advised by his physician to stop swimming so much.

"That's a very different picture to what the defence understood the picture to be," barrister Steven Deaves for the defendant - CC Pty Limited - which owns and operates a mine in Blackwater, said.

The defence applied to the court that Riemer undertake an examination by an occupational physician as opposed to an occupational therapist before the three-day trial begins on June 12.

"The defendant's insurer simply wants to understand his full capacity to earn an income in the future," Mr Deaves said.

He pointed out that the plaintiff has an obligation to keep legal representatives of both parties up to date with any developments relevant to the workers compensation case.

Mr Williams agreed with Mr Deaves that it was correct the defence didn't know about the operation when the parties discussed the first trial dates.

"That operation had been mooted for two years," Mr Williams said.

He presented the court with a letter from Dr Duke dated November 3, 2014 showing the need for the operation and its immediacy.

"It was a fact that Work Cover would not agree to fund the operation by Dr Duke," Mr Williams said.

He said this was why Riemer 'went out and paid for it himself'.

Mr Williams said Work Cover had been involved with the case since the accident on November 12, 2013.

The court heard the accident involved coal falling on top of Riemer in an underground mine owned by CC Pty Limited.

The court heard Riemer had suffered injuries and mobility issues to several joints, including both hips and the right shoulder.

Justice Duncan McMeekin ruled in favour of the defence and ordered Riemer undertake an examination by an occupational physician prior to the trial.

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