All that Ipswich-based delivery truck driver Colin wanted was for someone to help him after his injury. But nobody would.
He shared with us when he knew it was time to talk.
Colin had spent about two decades in the industry, and he’d seen his fair share of workplace injuries.
So, when he heard a crack and felt pain radiating in his hip on a delivery one day, he knew something bad had happened.
Deliveries would routinely involve manually lifting heavy boxes (of about 20kgs each) from the back of the truck and pushing trolleys weighing up to 180kgs all by himself.
The constant lifting, bending, ducking, and twisting took its toll on his body. But his boss didn’t care, and he was forced to work through it for weeks.
“I was thinking ‘what have I done, what’s happening?' All I was doing was transferring meat from my truck to pallets,” Colin said.
“I called my boss, but he didn’t want a bar of it. His exact words were ‘stop whinging, get the work done and I’ll see you next week’. I still had four jobs to go that day.”
When no one would help
Colin was a casual at the time and was afraid of losing his job, so after only a short time off, he pushed through the pain and limped around on one leg for a while.
But his fears soon became a reality a few months later. He was sacked.
What made things worse was when Colin’s cries for help with his hip injury were met with repeated rejections – including by WorkCover Queensland.
At first, Colin thought he’d strained a tendon or ligament but multiple scans over time revealed Colin had arthritis and a dislocated hip. His claim was originally rejected because it was deemed a pre-existing injury, although Colin had never experienced any problems before.
“I was despairing, despondent and depressed. They made me feel like a liability rather than an asset,” Colin said.
“I was out of work. I was in pain. I couldn’t drive. All my money was disappearing, and I couldn’t pay my bills. I couldn’t get up and down my own house stairs. I couldn’t even put my own socks on, I had to get friends to come over to help me.
“I was angry and confused. I couldn’t understand what happened, why I was sacked … or why no one cared.”
The moment he talked
Colin initially tried to find out about his options from another law firm, who told him he had no chance of a workers’ compensation claim because he was outside the six-month cut off time for reporting an injury to WorkCover Queensland.
Being unable to work or even tie his own shoelaces, Colin was quickly running out of money and hope. He felt like no one was on his side.
“Every day I would wake up and I’d think over and over again ‘when is this this going to end’,” Colin said. “Then Smith’s Lawyers came along.”
Like many of our clients Colin wasn’t shy in saying the process was far from fun but he just wanted someone to not give up on him.
“I knew I was entitled to financial help for the work that I lost (because of the work injury),” he said. “And Smith’s didn’t give up on me. I was going to get nothing. But I got 100 per cent more than nothing. I was able to get my life back on track, pay all my bills, and move on.”
Life on the other side
It was an interesting journey for Colin, and undoubtedly is for many others.
The flow-on effect from an injury and losing a job can be catastrophic. For Colin, it left him contemplating his worth in the workplace, especially now that at 65 he has to try and find something new – and during a global pandemic.
Even though he’s had a hip reconstruction and is almost good as new, he hasn’t shied away from saying he’s still struggling.
“I’m not doing cartwheels, but I’m recovered – back to practicing bits and pieces of Tai Chi and looking for work again,” he said.
“I wouldn’t even be this far though if it wasn’t for Smith’s. They’re the only ones on your side.”
Note: Since publication Colin has started work as a driver and operator with a vacuum extraction and service locating company in Brisbane. He says he is being well looked after and trained for an exciting new career.