A Tasmanian firefighter who suffered a brain injury while on duty is facing a legal battle with Allianz over the German giant’s refusal to pay for parts of his treatment.
Robert Boost was fighting a wildfire in Tasmania’s South West National Park in Feb. 2016 when a tree branch fell on top of him, fracturing his skull. The father of two has since undergone several operations and treatments and is currently on restricted duties at work because of chronic pain and other side effects.
Last month, Allianz informed Boost through a letter that it would no longer pay for some of his treatments, including infusions for chronic pain relief and the trial of a neurostimulators – both of which had been recommended by Boost’s team of specialists, Leigh Hills of the United Firefighters Union of Tasmania told nine.com.au.
“Every three to four months, Robert needs to go to hospital where he receives infusions of ketamine for his ongoing pain management – these cost $3,000 a day,” Hills said, adding that with each treatment usually lasting 8-10 days, each hospital stay could cost as much as $30,000.
Hills said Allianz’s decision to cut off funding for parts of Boost’s treatment was based on a consultation by one of its medical experts conducted in Feb. 2017.
“Until this matter is resolved Robert has been left with no choice but to pay for these treatments himself if he wants to keep managing his pain,” Hills told the news agency. “Already he has had to sell some of his personal effects, his car, and caravan, to make sure he had got some money there behind him.”
Hills said the prospect of a protracted legal case has added to Boost’s distress, as he sought to challenge Allianz’s decision before the Worker’s Compensation Tribunal.
“Obviously, he has got the stress of receiving Allianz’s letter, saying we are not going to pay or provide the treatment anymore,” Hills said. “But now he has got the added stress of having to go through the system to try and get it resolved, which can take time. So that’s potentially a long time which he has got to go without alternative medical treatment.”
The union has started an online fundraiser to help pay for some of Boost’s treatment.
In a statement provided to nine.com.au, a spokesperson for Allianz said: "For privacy reasons, we are unable to comment on the details of Mr Boost's claim, except to say that the claim was accepted at the time of injury in 2016, compensation payments continue to be made, and the claim is being handled in accordance with the Tasmanian Workers Compensation legislation."