Court backs woman over sex injury claim

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An AUSTRALIAN court has ruled that a civil servant who was injured while having sex on a business trip is eligible for worker’s compensation benefits.

The Full Bench of the Federal Court ruled in favour of the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, rejecting the appeal of the federal government’s insurer.

The woman was hospitalised after being injured in 2007 during sex with a male friend while staying in a hotel in the town of Nowra, 100 miles south of her hometown of Sydney. During the sex, a glass light fitting was torn from its mount above the bed and landed on her face, injuring her nose and mouth. She later suffered depression and was unable to continue working for the government.

Her claim for worker’s compensation for her physical and psychological injuries was initially approved by government insurer Comcare, then rejected after further investigation.

An administrative tribunal agreed with Comcare that her injuries were not suffered in the course of her employment.

The tribunal also found that the sex was “not an ordinary 
incident of an overnight stay”, such as showering, sleeping and eating.

That ruling was overturned in the Federal Court in 2012, when Judge John Nicholas rejected the tribunal’s findings that the sex had to be condoned by the government if she were to qualify for compensation.

“If the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her hotel room, she would be entitled to compensation even though it could not be said that her employer induced her to engage in such activity,” Nicholas wrote in his judgment in favour of the woman receiving compensation.

It is not yet clear how much compensation she will receive.