Man injured on work-related motorbike journey not on "duty"
Thursday, 31 May 2012 2:09pm
A Queensland worker who was injured in a motorcycle accident during the first stage of a journey to obtain work-related legal documents has been denied compensation.
The Queensland IRC found that while the worker's employer covered the costs of the journey, he wasn't injured on a "duty day".
The Qantas flight attendant frequently flies to and from the USA, and is required to hold a valid visa.
In March 2010, while on annual leave, he booked an early-hour flight from Brisbane to Sydney to go to the US Consulate to obtain such a visa.
As he had safety concerns of driving from his Gold Coast home to Brisbane in the early hours of the morning, he made arrangements to stay at a colleague's house, which was closer to the airport, the night before.
While riding his motorcycle to his colleague's house, the worker was involved in an accident with a car. He suffered a dislocated left hip, pelvis and leg fractures, and a broken wrist.
He was later issued with a traffic infringement notice for "failing to give way to [an] oncoming vehicle while turning right at [an] intersection with traffic lights without a green right turn traffic arrow", and accepted that he was "totally at fault".
He then claimed workers' compensation, but Qantas denied liability. Q-COMP found in the worker's favour, and Qantas appealed.
Connection with employment "casual"
Before Commissioner John Thompson, the employer argued that the worker, in causing the accident, had breached the State Criminal Code Act 1899, and was not entitled to workers' compensation because of "serious and wilful misconduct".
The employer also argued the worker's employment was not a contributing factor to his injuries.
The worker refuted suggestions of "gross misconduct", arguing he "had not driven without care and skill" and "the accident had occurred due to a momentary lapse of care".
The worker also said there was a clear "causal or consequential connection between [his] employment and his personal injury as he was undertaking the journey for an employment purpose".
But Commissioner Thompson said the link between the accident and work was more of a "casual" connection than a "causal" one.
He said that while there was an agreed requirement to hold and maintain a valid visa, with the process being funded by Qantas, there "was no agreement that the renewal would occur on a usual day of work".
"The custom and practice [was] that a non-work day (duty day) was utilised for renewal purposes," he said.
"It is difficult to accept thatů the relationship of the US visa renewal process undertaken by [the worker] is more than that of a 'casual' relationship to his employment."
Commissioner Thompson found the worker had sustained "personal injuries [that] did not arise out of or in the course of his employment", and upheld Qantas's appeal.