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Worker injured in motorcycle accident en route to friend's home after work - Court upheld worker's comp rights

QComp and John Kennelly and Qantas Airways Ltd (C/2012/16); John Kennerley and QComp and Qantas Airways Ltd (C/2012/18)

This case involves an appeal to the Industrial Court of Queensland from a rejection of a worker's claim for workers' compensation by Workcover Queensland, QComp and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC).

The appeal was made by a Qantas flight attendant who was injured in a motorcycle accident whilst he was travelling to a friend's home. The worker was intending to stay at his friend's home overnight before travelling to Sydney the next morning, where he was to undergo an interview to maintain his US visa for his employment. The flights to Sydney were paid for by his employer and he was receiving "compensation" for the journey from his employer (equal to 6 hours wages). The worker was on annual leave at the time of the motorcycle accident.

The Industrial Court (on appeal from QIRC) held that his injuries were compensable under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. The Court held that his work was a significant contributing factor to his injuries occurring. In making such decision the Court discussed how "significant" the association to employment had to be for a worker to be entitled to Statutory benefits under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003. It considered it "was towards the lower end but not at the base of the spectrum". The Court basically applied a "but for test" to the question of whether the worker's employment was a significant contributing factor to his personal injuries occurring, although it repudiated it was doing so. The Court said that the reason the worker was where he was at the time of the motorcycle accident was his work and but for his work, he would not have been where he was and had the accident.

The worker was therefore successful in overturning the decisions to reject his claim for workers' compensation benefits for the personal injuries he sustained in the motorcycle accident, by Workcover Queensland, QComp and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. 

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