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Workers Compensation Journey Claims -The Decisions Continue

Recent changes to legislation were intended to no longer cover injuries suffered during journeys unless there is a substantial connection between the person’s employment and the incident out of which the injury arose. 

The expectation was always that the connection between work and the journey would be tested. We have seen a number of cases of late including the one outlined in this article Mitchell v Newcastle Permanent Building Society Limited (2013).

 Ms Mitchell had suffered her injury when she tripped over tree roots whilst walking to her car after work. She was unsuccessful in her claim as Arbitrator Douglas determined there was no link between her employment as a loan processing officer and tripping over the tree roots.

The worker appealed the decision and Deputy President Kevin O’Grady delivered his decision on 22 October 2013.

The Deputy President determined that there was only a tenuous link between Ms Mitchell’s employment as a loan processing officer and tripping over the tree roots. Whilst there was a link in that tripping over the tree roots would not have occurred had Ms Mitchell not have been making that journey home from work, the link was too remote to be considered as a real and substantial connection. In other words, the journey was undertaken merely as a consequence of her being employed.

The Deputy President has made it clear the legislative intent of the amendments to the journey provisions was to abolish the entitlement of workers to compensation in respect of journey claims except in those circumstances where there is a real and substantial connection to employment. We expect claims that are lodged in the future will focus on “dual purpose” journeys whereby workers are undertaking employment tasks such as taking work home or making work related phone calls whilst in transit. Noting the typically beneficial interpretation of legislation by the Workers Compensation Commission, we expect these types of claim may have greater prospects of success.

Source: Gillis Delaney Lawyers Newsletter December 2013

 

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