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Lisa was a 22-year-old chef in 2019 when she unfortunately injured her right shoulder and elbow on the job. She was working at a roadhouse in the Northern Territory at the time, on a contract through her Queensland-based employer.

Her employer placed Lisa on short-term contracts as a chef at locations across the country, with the promise that if she continued to do well, she would continue to receive more contracts.

Lisa had already completed one contract in New South Wales before her injury at work in the Northern Territory.

If your employer is based in one state but your work injury happened in another, where can you claim compensation?

Lisa made a statutory workers’ compensation claim in Queensland and was successful. She received benefits from WorkCover Queensland, which included compensation for treatment including two surgeries and weekly benefits to compensate for her loss of wages.

When the statutory claim came to an end, we assisted Lisa in commencing common law claims against her employer and the roadhouse. This is where things got tricky.

Given that WorkCover Queensland had accepted her first workers’ compensation claim, Lisa had thought that her common law claim against her employer would also be handled in Queensland.

But WorkCover Queensland refused to respond to her common law claim, arguing that the ‘state of connection’ for Lisa’s employment was the Northern Territory.

In Lisa’s particular circumstances, the ‘state of connection’ is important, because in the Northern Territory there is no entitlement for a worker to bring a common law claim against their employer. 

A court decision

We took the case to the Supreme Court of Queensland, seeking a declaration that Lisa’s employment was connected with the state of Queensland.

The Supreme Court agreed and what the judge found is important for workers, employers and insurers alike. The judge found that when you are determining what the ‘state of connection’ for a worker is, under section 113 of Queensland's Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act, you must look at both the current contract and the whole of the employment relationship.

The Court considered:

  • the work history between the parties
  • the nature of the employment relationship, and
  • the intention of both the employer and Lisa to enter into future contracts with work likely to be in various states.

The Court ultimately found that Queensland was the state Lisa’s employment was connected to, allowing her to claim compensation there.

Why is this case important?

Despite initially resisting, WorkCover Queensland was ordered to allow Lisa to bring her common law claim in that state, which meant she could access further compensation for the injuries she sustained at work.

As more and more people move around the country, taking up jobs in other states and territories post-lockdowns, it’s important for workers to know their rights. 

Find out more information about Lisa's case 

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Our specialist work injury lawyers are here to help. If you've suffered an injury at work that has affected your physical or psychological wellbeing, we can help you get back on track so you can focus on getting better. Find out how we can assist you with your work injury claim.

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