Recently, an eye-opening workers’ compensation case came out of Australia. Although it is from a foreign country, the same scenario could happen right here. A woman was on an overnight business trip and got injured during a sexual encounter in her hotel room. It happened at night after her work day ended. A lamp fell on her head. She made a workers’ compensation claim for her injuries. This became an international news story because it is an amusing set of facts, and seems like an outrageous thing to file workers’ comp for.
How can anyone claim workers’ compensation when you are not actually doing your job when injured? She actually lost her claim, but it is not as simple as you might think. Under Maryland law, if you travel out of state on a business trip, and you are injured doing something you would normally do while on that trip, then you are covered by workers’ comp.
The Maryland Workers’ Comp case that set this standard involved a lady who slipped in the shower in her hotel room. She was clearly not working at the time, but the whole trip was work, and showering is a normal and routine thing to do while on such a trip. I represented a man who slipped in the hallway of his hotel while on an out of state business trip. He was walking to dinner. He won his workers’ compensation claim.
This woman did not win her claim in Australia, and I believe she would not win it here in Maryland. While showering, eating, walking, etc. are normal activities you would be expected to engage in while at work, having an intimate relationship is not. And having a lamp fall on you during that intimate relationship is definitely not a work accident than any employer can reasonably foresee. It is, however, pretty amusing and therefore good fodder for a blog!
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