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The Situation

  • Our client originally injured his lower back on 22 October 2009 in the course of his employment. As a result of this incident, our client made a claim for compensation which was accepted. He took some time off work and eventually returned to unrestricted work duties.
  • Later in October 2009, our client aggravated his lower back injury during his employment and made a further claim for compensation which was also accepted. Our client returned to work but on light duties until he was made redundant by his employer.
  • Our client then obtained alternative employment.
  • It’s important to note that our client continued to experience muscle spasms in his lower back since the original injury in 2009.
  • Our client underwent a lumbar spinal surgery in 2016 after which he was off work for a period of 3 months. The surgery reduced but did not eliminate the spasms.
  • In January 2017, our client was at home playing in the backyard with his son. Our client and his son were riding scooters when our client experienced a minor lower back spasm. This caused our client’s lower back muscles to tighten and made it difficult to control his legs Consequently, our client lost balance and fell off of the scooter he was riding and onto a concrete surface. As a result of this incident, he sustained a fractured right elbow.
  • In 2017, the Compensating Authority rejected our client’s claim for his right elbow fracture on the basis that the injury was not work related, which we disputed on his behalf at the South Australian Employment Tribunal.

Discussion

  • In order for our client to be compensated for his right elbow injury, we had to prove that our client’s right elbow injury arose out of or in the course of his employment and that his employment was the significant contributing cause of his right elbow fracture.
  • The Compensating Authority’s representatives argued that our client was injured whilst undertaking a purely recreational activity that had nothing to do with his employment.
  • However, we argued that there was strong causal connection between our client’s employment, his lower back injury and the fall in which he fractured his right elbow. Whilst our client’s right elbow injury did not occur in the course of his employment, it did arise out of his employment.

The Decision

  • His Honour Deputy President Calligeros found there was a chain of (uninterrupted) causation between the earlier 2009 lower back injury and the subsequent 2017 right elbow fracture, and our client’s claim succeeded. See Calvert v Return to Work Corporation of South Australia [2019] SAET 144
Yes it may be possible to claim workers compensation if you sustain an injury at home due to the effects of a compensable work injury. Have you been injured at work? Are you suffering ongoing effects from a previous work injury? You may be entitled to claim workers compensation. To find out, call or email Manfield & Co and arrange a free first consultation. Ph: (08) 8264 7222 | Email: reception@mandco.com.au For further information, refer to the decision of His Honour Deputy President Judge Calligeros at: http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/sa/SAET//2019/144.html