Workers’ compensation is one of those important employee benefits enshrined in law. Every state in the U.S. has some sort of legislation on the books providing basic protection to help workers who are injured on the job get the support they need to recover and get back to work. Most industrialized countries around the world also have such laws.
In most cases, the injury for which benefits are sought can be clearly linked to some accident on the job. But sometimes the circumstances can be less clear and a claim can wind up being challenged in court and judges are left to decide whether some limits have been crossed.
One such case out of Australia has gotten some media attention recently. As a result of the case, that country’s High Court appears to have drawn a clear line in the sand.
The case involves a female federal worker who went on a business trip to New South Wales in 2007. While there, she met a male friend. They had dinner and went to her motel where they had sex.
While they were so engaged, a glass light fixture above the bed somehow was pulled from its mount and hit the woman in the face. Her injuries required some hospitalization and she also claimed psychological injury. Because she was on a business trip, she filed for workers’ compensation.
The first court to take up the case rejected her claim as being non-work related, but two appeals courts said she was entitled to benefits because she was hurt while on a work trip.
Last week, the Australian High Court issued what likely is the last word, saying no compensation is due. The majority opinion said that injuries on the job have to result from “an inducement or encouragement by the employer,” and that wasn’t the case here.
Now, this case, being from Australia, has no direct bearing on what happens in Pennsylvania. However, anyone who might be seeking to pursue a claim involving similar circumstances might want to keep it in mind.
Source: ClaimsJournal.com, “Sex Injury on Work Trip Not Covered, Australia Court Says,” Joe Schneider, Bloomberg, Oct. 30, 2013