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11.1 Liability and Pre-Existing Injuries and Predispositions


Delegates should be aware that a determination which accepts liability to pay compensation for an injury, disease etc. is an 'all or nothing' determination. The SRCA and its predecessors are 'no-fault' Acts and it is not possible to concede less than 100% liability on the basis that the client bear some of the 'fault' or that some other party was partly responsible for the injury.

Similarly, where the client had an injury (or a condition predisposing him/her to injury) which predated enlistment and this was a factor in promoting a new injury or an aggravation of the old one, liability should not be denied on these grounds alone.

The accepted doctrine (reinforced by case law) within all Compensation jurisdictions is that an employer takes on an employee 'as he finds him' i.e. with all the person's defects and tendencies. The person's natural defects (i.e. a greater than usual tendency to contract osteoarthritis with moderate exercise) do not mitigate the effects of liability for that work-related injury or disease.

Naturally, this should not be interpreted to mean that the Commonwealth is liable for illnesses or injuries which originated entirely outside of the period of service and whose subsequent course was not influenced by the employment, (i.e. even though it may have manifested itself only during service). There must always be an employment-related nexus for a medical condition to be compensable.

On the other hand, failure to declare pre-existing injuries and known medical conditions at the time of enlistment in the ADF cancels any compensation claim in relation to (i.e. aggravating) that condition. This is further discussed at 27.1.1.