From John Ray's shorter notes
January 22, 2021
Man who strained his back picking up company car keys will receive workers compensation
How on earth is the employer responsible for this? Is the employer responsible for damage that he does to himself while he performs an everyday task? If he was acting on the instructions of his employer it would make sense. But he clearly was not. He was making a private decision about a private matter
It's all an instance of the courts assisting people to target those who have deep pockets. If some one suffers in some way, lawyers look around for someone who is even tangentially involved and puts the reponsibility on him if he has significant resources. And judges allow that.
Liability is not dermined by guilt or responsibility but by ability to pay
A tribunal found the link between his work and his journey to work meant his injury was compensable
The South Australian Employment Tribunal has ruled that Robert Thelan, a works coordinator for SA Power Networks, must be compensated for the injury.
Mr Thelan was on call at home, on September 9, 2019, when he received a text message asking him to attend a job to fix a power line.
He got dressed for work and went out to the company Ford Ranger in his driveway, and sat down in the drivers' seat.
Mr Thelan accidentally dropped the keys to the four-wheel-drive ute onto the driveway, according to the judgment of Deputy President Judge Miles Crawley.
Staying in the seat, 90 centimetres above the ground, he leaned out the driver's side door to pick them up, straining his back in the process.
He drove to the Port Pirie SA Power Networks depot and reported the injury, and was taken to hospital soon after.
He was subsequently unable to work and incurred medical expenses, but SA Power Networks rejected his compensation claim.
The company, which builds and maintains the state's electricity infrastructure, argued that the injury "did not arise from employment and employment was not a significant contributing cause of the injury".
SA Power Networks said Mr Thelan was "merely undertaking activity preparatory to undertaking duties of employment".
But he submitted that his injury did occur when he was carrying out his duties of employment, and that he therefore deserved compensation.
Under his employment agreement, he started getting paid when he began his journey to a job, and he was required to use a company vehicle to get there.
In 2019, another judge had found that there needed to be a "real and substantial connection between the employment and the accident" as well as "a real and substantial connection between the employment and the journey" for an injury to be compensable.
But in this week's case, Judge Crawley said Judge Brian Gilchrist was wrong in his decision.
"I find that it is not a prerequisite to compensability that there be a real and substantial connection between the accident and the employment," the judgement reads.
SA Power Networks declined to comment.
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