With the festive season in full swing and enthusiastic employees awaiting a party to unwind from their work responsibilities, employers should be aware that liability for workers compensation claims is still applicable. This is regardless of whether the annual Christmas party is held privately or publicly, at a location or premises different to their usual place of business.
In the case of Suzanne Elizabeth McCoy v State Super Financial Services Australia Limited  NSWWCC 77 which was decided in 2018 the applicant worker was planning to attend her work Christmas party at a local hotel in the same town as her employment. She was tired from the day’s work and the year that had been. She lived approximately 40 minutes from the town and was intending to consume alcohol at the function so had booked a motel for the night with her husband, which would also avoid a long trip home after the party. She finished work at 5pm, her husband then picked her up from work and went to the motel. They then got ready for the party at the motel and then left the motel at 5:45pm to ensure they arrived on time for the party at 6pm. They were hurrying to get to the party. It was the worker’s perception that she was required to attend the party on time. While making their way to the party the worker tripped on a raised paver and injured her right ankle. The right ankle injury led to significant complications including symptoms suggestive of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.
Liability was disputed by the workers compensation insurer. The insurer did not dispute the injury occurred but they did dispute whether the injury arose in the course of her employment, whether the injury arose out of that employment, whether the applicant’s employment was a substantial contributing factor, whether the applicant was making a journey, and whether there was a real and substantial connection between her employment and the injury.
The Arbitrator found for the worker in respect to her making a journey claim and that there was a real and substantial connection between the worker’s employment and the fall causing injury, namely she was tired from the day and year, as well as her perception to attend the work party on time which lead to her hurrying.
If you have a query whether a journey claim is a compensable workers compensation claim please contact Everingham Solomons because Helping You is Our Business.
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