A brave firefighter is stuck in a legal stoush for compensation after he was injured fighting a blaze.
A brave firefighter is stuck in a legal stoush for compensation after he was injured fighting a blaze.

Firey suing after falling down hill

AN INJURED firefighter who was helicoptered to safety during January's devastating bushfires has now found himself in a legal stoush with the state government.

On January 6 this year, and as fires ravaged through more than 20,000ha of Tasmanian bushland, the firefighter slipped down a hill on "uneven and irregular terrain".

Carrying a 30kg backpack and implements in his hand, the firefighter caught his foot on a log and dislocated his left kneecap, according to a newly-published Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Tribunal decision.

He was extracted by helicopter and taken to Calvary Hospital for an x-ray and MRI while suffering pain, swelling and bruising.

Temporarily needing crutches, the firefighter lodged a workers' compensation claim with his employer, DPIPWE, while awaiting surgery for a bone realignment.

But DPIPWE has now successfully argued it has a "reasonably arguable case" against liability as the firefighter had a pre-existing knee injury, the decision by tribunal chief commissioner Alison Clues said.

The matter will now proceed to a contested hearing in which DPIPWE will argue against paying the firefighter's claim.

According to the decision, the man was given medical certificates until February 12 and recommended for office duties after that while awaiting surgery.

But an orthopaedic surgeon noted the firefighter had previously dislocated the kneecap in 2012, finding there was a significant likelihood that any strenuous activity or twisting would once again dislodge his unstable patella.

He said any proposed treatment would not be a direct consequence of the January 2020 injury.

Ms Clues found it was reasonably arguable the fighter had suffered from the recurrence of a pre-existing injury rather than a "simple injury by accident".

Originally published as Firey suing after falling down hill