Stabbed Worker Not Entitled to Compensation30 June 2017
The New South Wales Workers Compensation Commission (“WCC“) has rejected a claim by the director of Mohammed Javed Pty Ltd, that he was stabbed by his son during the course of his employment, and would therefore be entitled to worker’s compensation payments, medical expenses and lump sum compensation.
In November 2015, the worker went home after a delivery to check his home facsimile machine for orders to deliver white goods for Harvey Norman. When the worker arrived at home, he and his wife became embroiled in a dispute with his son, who has a history of violent and unpredictable behaviour, about the home electricity account, which escalated and became violent, resulting in the worker being stabbed in the stomach and back.
The worker claimed that by returning home to check his facsimile machine, the dispute and stabbing at his home was an injury that had occurred during the course of his employment.
In rejecting its liability to pay out the compensation, the worker’s insurer argued that his injury was solely attributable to misconduct pursuant to S14 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (NSW).
The worker appealed, and told the WCC Arbitrator that he would not have been exposed to his son’s particularly volatile manner at the time of the incident if he hadn’t been required to return home for work purposes.
The insurer argued that the worker removed himself from the course of his employment when he started discussing the electricity bill in the kitchen, and that there was no evidence on where the facsimile machine or home office was.
The WCC ultimately sided with the insurer, agreeing that the worker’s decision to enter his house with a box-cutter in his hand to confront his son, immediately following a ‘fiery’ dispute, was clearly out of the course of his employment.
Accordingly, the WCC upheld the insurer’s decision to deny liability to pay-out any insurance claims.
Although unsurprising, the decision by the WCC provides some insight into the manner in which decision-making bodies will adjudicate questions regarding the scope of the ‘course of employment’. Where an injury arises that would not have occurred, if not for the worker’s actions, particularly where those actions go well beyond the scope of their normal work activities, that injury may not be compensable.