putting the pieces back together after a workplace injury

April 4th 2017

Scenic sunrise view
Shane Winterton (47) would like nothing more than to rewind the clock and change the events of a working day that would dramatically impact his life. In 2010, Shane suffered a back injury whilst working for the local council. And whilst he recovered from the accident, his body remained susceptible to further injury and the following year, whilst using a high-pressure water hose on the job, seven vertebrae in his spine were damaged, causing Shane incredible pain and severely limiting his mobility. The years following the accident took Shane down a very bleak path; relationships broke down, and he found himself struggling significantly.

Years on, the constant physical pain remains and Shane cannot work again as further damage to his back will leave him wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. However, these days Shane is in a much better place mentally and emotionally and has made some important changes to his life. Shane contributes part of his recovery and improved well-being to his financial planner, Ben Warren of the Coffs Harbour Invest Blue office.

Shane and Ben at the Invest Blue Coffs Harbour Office

Here, in the hope of helping others who may find themselves dramatically impacted by a workplace accident or facing other life challenges, Shane and Ben provide their perspectives.

As part of a compensation payout, clients are often encouraged to seek professional financial assistance and Shane’s lawyers, Somerville Laundry Lomax Solicitors in Ballina, suggested he connect with Ben Warren. This time, Shane was not going to repeat past mistakes. After his first workplace injury in 2010, Shane had received a compensation payout and spent most of it in six months. The only sensible spending was covering his daughter’s school fees until her completion of high school – the rest of the money was wasted away. According to Shane, “he went stupid with it.”

Ben says that this knee-jerk spending reaction is not uncommon.

“It’s very easy for clients who receive large amounts of compensation to get carried away initially. The first reaction is to go straight to the local car, boat or motorcycle dealership and get themselves something new. Anecdotally, Personal Injury Lawyers have received calls from clients handing their phone over to the salesman and asking the lawyer to explain that there is money on the way.”

Shane had learnt his lesson the hard way and by the time Ben and Shane came together in 2016, Shane was battered – mentally, physically, emotionally and financially. Ben recognized that Shane had long put his health and well-being last. “My job as a financial planner was to help Shane understand his future and recognize what was important to him. He in poor health and was under financial duress. He had little control over his life. We sat down and mapped out what was holding him back. It was time to look forward and ensure that he could move on from his past.

For Shane, meeting Ben was an important turning point.

“Ben broke everything down for me so I could understand it. I was very open and relaxed with Ben as I knew I could trust him.  I walked out of there feeling a hell of a lot better. With Ben’s encouragement, I also joined Grow Group (a community based mental health support group) who have helped me with my depression.”

From a practical standpoint, Ben devised a financial plan to help his client achieve his short, medium and long-term goals. Shane no longer has personal loan obligations, lives independently, (having previously been living with his mother) and has a regular income stream to ensure he can continue a liveable lifestyle. Shane also has the clarity to make sound financial decisions.

Shane says he feels as though he’s living on the flip side of the same coin but this time, the coin is shiny and solidly in his grasp. Shane has lost almost forty kilograms, rarely drinks alcohol and is socialising again after shutting himself off from others for years.  Feeling anxious and overwhelmed by even the most regular day to day activities (collecting the mail, chatting to people) is behind him and he has a new lease on life.

“Ben gave me peace of mind so I could have a normal life. I no longer worry about money matters and can go out and enjoy myself.”

Ben has also benefitted from his involvement with Shane and is delighted to see him smiling again after years of such sadness. “To witness a grown man with tears of happiness rolling down his face, explaining that he now has a clear future and can move on from a very dark period in his life, is very rewarding and consolidates the reasons why we do what we do. This plan had nothing to do with rates of return, complex investment structures or products with all the bells and whistles. This plan was empowering Shane to regain his life and make better decisions moving forward.”

Today, Shane Winterton wears his smile with pride, along with those brand-new XL clothes he’s had to buy to accommodate his changing shape. Shane’s no longer the man ready to call it quits on life and openly shares his story so that others may learn from his experiences. He strongly encourages people to seek expert help, be it a financial planner, lawyer or psychologist – those trusted, well-informed experts in their field equipped to deal with the issues at hand. “If you don’t get rid of the problems, they’re going to eat at you and chew you up – the mind can be a dangerous thing. See the right people so you’re not facing everything alone.”

For Shane, Ben is one of those ‘right’ people and one among many supporting Shane as he puts the pieces of his life back together.


What you need to know

This information is provided by Invest Blue Pty Ltd (ABN 91 100 874 744). The information contained in this article is of general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regards to those matters and seek personal financial, tax and/or legal advice prior to acting on this information. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relations to products and services provided to you.

These clients have agreed to share their story. Everyone’s situation is different, so their choices and outcomes will be different to yours. Consider your circumstances before deciding what’s right for you.