The workers’ compensation world is abuzz these days about a workers’ comp decision recently handed down in Australian courts. In this case, a woman sought workers’ compensation for injuries she sustained to her face during a business trip when a glass light fixture above the bed in her hotel room fell on her. Seems like a straightforward case? Not really: She was engaging in sexual intercourse at the time of the injury.
The Australian lower courts initially awarded the injured employee workers’ compensation, holding that the woman was in the hotel room at the behest of her employer and that her activities at the time of her injuries were irrelevant. But last month Australia’s highest court reversed the decision.
The High Court noted that the relevant question was: “Did the employer induce or encourage the employee to engage in that activity [leading to the injury]?” The court found the answer to be “no,” stating that sexual activity was “not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay like showering, sleeping, [or] eating.” The workers’ comp claim was therefore denied. The decision is final.
So that’s Australia, but what about New York?
The Australian decision does not affect New York workers’ compensation cases, however, it does make one ponder the question: under what circumstances can New York employees recover workers’ compensation when injured on business trips?
Under New York Workers’ Compensation Law, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation when injured in the course of business, no matter whether in the office or while traveling on business. But the activity giving rise to the injury must fall within the scope of employment. Injuries arising out of “purely personal pursuits” are not compensable.
The test for assessing whether an activity falls within the realm of employment or purely personal actions examines whether the activity was both reasonable and adequately work-related under the circumstances. The New York Workers’ Compensation Board decides each case
A full spectrum of activities may be considered “reasonable” and “work-related” for workers’ compensation purposes, even when the injury occurs on a business trip and the activity may not appear business-related at first glance. Never assume that your injuries aren’t compensable without first speaking to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer. Note, however, that the New York Workers’ Compensation Board decides each case based upon the facts of that particular situation.
If you’re a New York employee who has been injured while on a business trip and have questions about your entitlement to workers’ compensation, contact an experienced Albany workers’ compensation attorney. At the law office of Paul Giannetti, I’d be happy to assess your rights and discuss the viability of your claim in a free consultation. Call today at at (866) 868-2960 or contact me online.