Bob is on vacation this week. This post is from the Cluttered Desk archives, and was originally published on April 20, 2012.
An Australian woman who was injured having sex in her motel room while on a business trip has been awarded benefits for the injury. The unnamed woman was apparently injured when a light fixture fell off the wall and struck her in the face.
Talk about thunder down under......
She apparently met a male friend who lived in the town she was visiting. They went to a restaurant and then went back to her motel room where they had sex that resulted in the injury, when a glass light fitting came away from the wall above the bed. Initially her claim for facial and psychological injuries was rejected.
Here in the states I believe we refer to this as the "Personal Comfort Doctrine". I have no idea what they call it in Australia. The theory, of course, is that she was engaged in a trip for the benefit of her employer, the Human Relations Section of the Commonwealth Government agency, so the injury thereby occurred within the course and scope of her employment. After all, she was clearly engaged in human relations at the time of the incident. The judge in the appeal said, in ruling the injury compensable, that this was no different than if she was injured while "playing cards in her motel room".
I disagree slightly. If she was playing cards in her motel room, a light fixture probably would not have fallen off the wall and struck her in the face. Unless it was a REALLY good card game.
Her boyfriend, at least for the evening in question, said "they were going pretty hard", and he was not sure if she was facing up or down when the fixture fell, as they were "rolling around quite a bit". As sensitively romantic as that sounds, I believe I could deduce for this Einstein that she was clearly on her back at the time, since she was struck in the face and light fixtures tend not to "fall up". Of course, it is the southern hemisphere, where whirlpools swirl in opposite directions and Hugo Chavez remains inexplicably popular, so I suppose anything is possible. (Ok, I realize Venezuela is just this side of the equator in the Northern Hemisphere, but many people won't know that and accuracy is not my strong suit). Either way it almost sounds like this Romeo didn't stop to check. He clearly had other things on his, um, mind.
Here in the states the same ruling is quite possible. I recently heard at the San Antonio ABA Conference about a 1923 case where a death of a traveling salesman was ruled compensable after he perished in a fire at a brothel. No word on which way he was facing at the time. Personally, this is a benefit of the workplace I shall never have to worry about. If I ever got injured during sex while on the road, at best it would be a much simpler death claim, as my wife would shoot me in the face with a bazooka.
Actually, my wife never worries about other women when I am on the road. I have never given her any reason to. She does, however, worry about food, and I have given her plenty of concern there. When I am out having a few drinks with associates who are busy harassing the server or trying to pick up the shoe shine lady they met on the exhibit hall floor, I am usually focused on the hot plate of Nachos I spot across the room (hey baby, let's grab some salsa and head back to my room).
Frankly, my odds with the Nachos are better than theirs is with the shoe shine lady. And if I happen to choke on a Nacho chip, I know the Personal Comfort Doctrine will come through for me as well.
I just don't want to be the one to tell my wife.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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