What Brisbane Personal Injury Lawyers can learn from Davis v Terrivic Pty Limited to define ‘in the course of employment’

Davis v Terrivic Pty Limited is a recent New South Wales Workers Compensation Commission decision that provides scope in defining ‘in the course of employment’ for workplace injury claims. In particular, Davis v Terrivic Pty Limited addresses whether an employee can still be injured in the course of employment after that employee has submitted a resignation.

FACTS

  • On the 7th of May 2015 the Applicant (Plaintiff), Ms Davis, suffered serious personal injuries as the result of a vehicle accident, incurred on a journey to see her employer (the Respondents). Immediately prior Ms Davis had submitted a letter of resignation. Ms Davis swerved to avoid a kangaroo and veered off the road before colliding with trees at Pine Creek Ridge, 48 km south of Broken Hill.
  • Ms Davis had complained of being bullied by her then-manager, Mr Wilson, over a long period of time. On May 7th she handed in her resignation after a final instance of bullying and drove directly to the franchisee, Ms Leonard’s, residence to divulge the situation and agree on a solution, otherwise she would resign.
  • Ms Davis had numerous hours remaining for her shift.
  • Ms Davis was under a contractual obligation to give two week’s notice for a resignation. This was unless Ms Davis intended to resign immediately and forfeit pay.

ISSUE

  1. Did the injuries suffered by the applicant as a result of a motor vehicle accident on 7 May 2014 arise out of and in the course of her employment with the respondent?
  1. That is, had Ms Davis terminated her employment before the accident by way of:
    1. The letter being intended to create termination immediately (and not in two week’s time); and/or
    2. The repudiation of the employment contract being accepted by the respondent; and/or
  • The contract being repudiated by means of serious misconduct.

HELD

  • The injuries suffered by the applicant did arise out of and in the course of her employment.

RATIO

  • Ms Davis did not intend for her resignation to be immediate upon its submission as:
    • Ms Davis was aware that her termination was ineffective until a member of management had signed off on the document;
    • Nothing stated expressly in the letter suggested that Ms Davis intended her resignation to be immediate;
    • The attaching of her badge to the resignation letter was intended to show Mr Wilson her seriousness of her disapproval of his conduct;
    • Ms Davis had been on her way to see the respondents and evidence supported this.
  • Even if the respondent had accepted Ms Davis’ repudiation of her contract, this only took place two weeks after the accident.
  • Ms Davis did not breach her contract by leaving the premises in a junior’s hands. This conduct was not ‘serious misconduct’. That is, serious enough to warrant immediate termination. It was not unlawful for Ms Davis to leave the premises to attempt to converse with the respondents. Another staff member had sufficient training for this purpose.

AWARD

  • An award of weekly compensation at the rate of $936.68 per week was to be made in respect of the period 7 May 2013 to 6 July 2015.

For more information regarding options if you are Injured in the Course of Employment

Please contact our Business Development Team or call us on (07) 3252 0011 to book an appointment with one of our specialist Personal Injury Lawyers today.

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