I injured myself while working overseas – can I make a personal injury claim now that I am back in Australia?

by Andrew Lind on 13 January, 16

Overseas travel is being increasingly demanded of Australian’s throughout the course of their careers. Inevitably, accidents and injuries occur while abroad and luckily, worker’s compensation legislation does provide some means for remedy when these circumstances arise.

Like all other WorkCover claims, the injury must be a ‘personal injury arising out of, or in the course of, employment if the employment is a significant contributing factor to the injury.’ Special provision is made under section 115 of the Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) for arrangements where employees are required to undertake overseas travel, and are subsequently injured while doing so.

Section 115 states that if an injury is sustained by a worker in another country in circumstances that, had the injury been sustained in Queensland, compensation would have been payable, and, at the time of the injury, the worker’s principal place of employment was in Queensland, compensation is payable as if the injury were sustained in Queensland.

In short, if your Queensland employer sent you to work overseas and you are injured while carrying out your duties as an employee, you will probably have a valid WorkCover claim under Queensland legislation.

If your principal place of employment is in another country, compensation is not payable under the Act. This might be ambiguous where you are employed in Queensland, but the company you work for has international branches and relocates you to one of those.

In these circumstances, the test for whether a worker’s principal place of employment is in a particular country is whether the worker usually works in that country. If the worker usually works in multiple countries, then you must look to the country that the employers’ principal place of business operates from.

If there is still ambiguity as to what country is the employees’ principal place of employment, regard must be had to the workers work history with the employer, and the intention of the worker and the employer. This will include considerations such as whether your employment contract is governed by the laws of Queensland or not.

Temporary overseas employment arrangements shorter than six months must not be considered as determining the principal place of employment.

You will also not be eligible for workers compensation in the situation where you travel overseas for work and injure yourself doing something outside of the requirements of your employment. So if you undertake leisure or recreational activities not initiated by your employer and that are outside of the course of your duties as an employee, and you sustain an injury, compensation will probably not be payable under the Act.

If you wish to have a free consultation with one of our Brisbane personal injury lawyers, you can contact our office on (07) 3252 0011 or through our general enquiries page.

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