A Toowoomba man is taking Lifeline to court over claims of a work-related injury.
A Toowoomba man is taking Lifeline to court over claims of a work-related injury.

Worker takes Lifeline to court over $339k injury claim

LIFELINE Darling Downs has been taken to court with an employee claiming nearly $340,000 compensation over what he says was a serious back injury sustained at work.

Lesley Walter Jensen, who worked at the not-for-profit organisation's retail shop at the O'Mara's Rd waste facility until recently, lodged the claim through Shine Lawyers in the Toowoomba District Court last month.

But in its defence, Lifeline has called the alleged circumstances "untrue" and "excessive", and that the injuries were the result of the plaintiff's age.

In court documents obtained by The Chronicle, Mr Jensen has claimed he suffered the disc extrusion and radiculopathy as a result of conditions at the site while he was driving a forklift to transport donations from the public.

"The surface in the vicinity of the Lifeline Shop comprised rough, uneven, bumpy gravel," the statement of claim says.

"On or about January 13 2017, the plaintiff was performing his duties of driving the forklift, in respect of which he drove over a number of bumps which jarred his back, he stopped the forklift, he commenced to alight from the forklift (and) he experienced severe leg pain.

"In doing so, the plaintiff suffered an injury to his lower back being an L2/L3 extrusion and L3 radiculopathy."

Mr Jensen also claims Lifeline's decision to fit the forklift with solid rubber tyres had contributed to the injury, adding that he was overworked and should've been protected from injury.

"As a result of the injury, the plaintiff suffered... lower back pain, radiculopathy, left leg instability, leg wasting (and) discomfort," the claim says.

Mr Jensen, 59, claims he can no longer perform manual labour, and is not qualified for office work.

The final amount of $339,000 is made up of previous and future lost work, superannuation and medical expenses. Lifeline has vigorously denied much of the claims surrounding the incident.

Its defence document claims Mr Jensen is capable of working now, and that his leave is "from psychological stress, anger, and conscious decision to not work arising out of conflict between his co-workers".

"The plaintiff did not drive over any bumps that jarred his back... (he) did not sustain injury or onset of severe leg pain at work (and) the plaintiff first developed onset of (the injuries) in circumstances unknown to the defendant," it states.

"The losses alleged by the plaintiff were solely caused by the natural progression of pre-existing degenerative change of the lumbar spine."

The defence also claims Mr Jensen only made up to 10 trips on the forklift per shift, for a maximum period of 15 minutes at a time.

"The plaintiff's forklift driving tasks did not create a foreseeable risk of injury (and) did not create a significant risk of injury," the document says.

Lifeline and its solicitor BTLawyers declined to comment. The case continues this month.