PVYW v Comcare (No 2) [2012] FCA 395

On 19 April 2012 the Federal Court of Australia held that the applicant, who was injured when hit by a falling light fitting while she was having sex in a motel room, had suffered injuries ‘in the course of her employment’. It seems fair to say that the case represents the high water mark for injuries suffered ‘in the course of your employment’ under workers compensation legislation.

The applicant was a Commonwealth Government agency employee who was required to travel to a New South Wales country town for work in November 2007. A motel room was booked for the applicant by her employer as she was away from her usual place of work. While the applicant was visiting the town, she arranged to meet a male friend for dinner. After dinner the applicant and her male friend retreated back to the motel room. According to the applicant, while she was having sex, a glass light fitting located above the bed was pulled from its mount and subsequently hit her causing injuries to both her nose and mouth.

The Court was required to consider whether the applicant’s injuries were suffered “in the course of her employment” under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth). It was held that they were.

Nicholas J said that it was not necessary for the applicant to show that the particular activity which led to the injury was one that had been expressly or impliedly induced or encouraged by her employer. His Honour gave the example of playing cards. He said that if the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room then she would have been entitled to compensation, even though it could not be said that her employer induced or encouraged her to engage in that activity. A game of patience might have been a safer option.