It’s silly season, which means it’s that time of the year when we let our hair down at the Christmas party and celebrate making it through another year. But be warned. With vigorous dancing, excessive alcohol, games and activities, Christmas parties are also a haven for potential injuries.
We often get asked during this period whether there is anything we can do to assist an employee injured during a Christmas party. It’s important to first ask: “Is my Christmas party injury covered by the Workers Compensation Act?”
Generally speaking, injuries sustained at work Christmas parties will be covered by a worker’s compensation policy as they are considered to be work events, even if they’re held at an offsite venue and attendance is optional and after hours. Effectively, the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace (perhaps a lot more fun), with the same obligations and entitlements applicable as your usual workplace.
Claims may be accepted for common Christmas party injuries, including slipping on spilt drinks, falling off a stage and, of course, falling over while dancing. In some cases, a claim may also be accepted for an injury on the way to the Christmas party.
Depending on the circumstances of your injury, your employer may also be considered negligent, for example, where the employer does not ensure there is a responsible service of alcohol, or if the employer fails to enforce workplace policies, including bullying and harassment policies.
It is also important to know when a claim will not be accepted.
Once employees leave the official function and move onto another venue, any injury will often not be covered.
Similarly, if you are disobeying direct orders from your employer or engage in risky or illegal activities you will not have much luck with your claim.
For example, an employee who crashed her car on the way home from a Christmas party was not covered because the employee was found to be under the influence of alcohol and had disobeyed a direction from her employer not to drive home intoxicated.
In another case, an employee who suffered injuries when he slipped and fell over a balcony railing, 25 metres to the ground, was not covered as the court found that the after party was not a work function and the employees had already left the original Christmas function.
If you have been injured in the course of your employment, Christmas festivities or not, contact us for a free first consultation with one of our personal injury experts to discuss your claim and your legal rights.