Knee replacement is artificial aid: Court Of Appeal upholds landmark workers compensation ruling

Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers’ Partner Peter Lleonart welcomes the NSW Court of Appeal’s upholding of a landmark Workers Compensation Commission ruling, which rewrites the law and gives hope to injured workers across the state. 

Peter Lleeonart

The NSW Court of Appeal has upheld an earlier decision of the Workers Compensation Commission which found in favour of an injured NSW railway worker being able to claim compensation for a knee replacement deemed medically necessary as a result of a workplace injury he suffered 17 years earlier.

Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers ran the landmark case which opens the way for injured workers across the state to claim compensation in similar circumstances. “The Court of Appeal upheld the interpretation by the Commission of the phrase ‘artificial aid’ so as to include a knee replacement”, Partner Peter Lleonart said. “This decision now means compensation is now possible for injured workers across the state whose injuries worsen over time.

“Any worker who now requires knee replacement surgery as a result of a deteriorating workplace injury, no matter how long ago that injury occurred, could now be eligible. Indeed it is now also very likely that any person requiring any other type of joint replacement from an injury, such as for a hip or shoulder, will be compensated, no matter how long ago the injury occurred, assuming, of course, the need for the procedure can be related back to their injury.”

The man, now aged in his 60s, was injured when working for Pacific National. He suffered a knee injury that ended his career and that over time became progressively worse. Unfortunately under 2012 amendments to NSW Workers Compensation laws the capacity to seek compensation for ongoing medical treatment of workplace injuries that subsequently deteriorate over time, were significantly reduced.

Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers helped the man challenge that ruling that he was not entitled to be compensated for a knee replacement despite clinical evidence in 2016 that the deterioration of his knee was directly related to the origin injury in 1999. The action launched in the NSW Workers Compensation Commission was successful in having knee replacements included in the definitions of ‘artificial aid’ and ‘artificial member’. Only a very limited number of defined medical treatments are not subject to strict time limits.

In a precedent-setting decision that has ramifications for or injured workers across NSW, the Commission found the man’s knee replacement was both necessary as a result of the original injury and that the planned surgery fell within the definition of ‘artificial aid’. The NSW Court of Appeal has now upheld this decision.


Partner Peter Lleonart has a strong personal injury practice because he knows what clients need and he prioritises delivering outcomes for clients when it matters. A partner based at the Western Sydney office of Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers, Peter has a wide diversity of clients across metropolitan Sydney and Regional NSW and is experienced in handling complex matters. Clients with personal injury issues are often experiencing the most difficult time in their lives. Peter supports his clients above and beyond simple legal advice. He is a strong communicator, guiding his clients through the myriad of issues that can sometimes be involved in these cases. Peter’s commitment to personal injury stems from a lifelong interest in issues affecting the developing world. He has put this interest into practice when by working in Australian aid projects in Nicaragua. Key Professional Achievements: Prior to joining Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers in 2013 Peter was a partner for 18 years with a Sydney based firm; Peter was admitted as a Solicitor in 1987 having completed a combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree; He subsequently completed a Masters degree in Labour Relations Law at Sydney University. Contact Peter at or connect via LinkedIn.

Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn