Aussie woman compensated for motel sex accident

Civil servant wins five-year legal battle after being hit in the face by a light-fitting during sex

LAST UPDATED AT 16:37 ON Mon 17 Dec 2012

PEOPLE who hurt themselves having sex usually keep quiet about it. But an Australian woman injured during a sexual encounter with a male friend has won a five-year legal battle for compensation.

The civil servant, who is in her 30s, but cannot be identified for legal reasons, was on a business trip in 2007 when she had sex with the man in a motel in Nowra, about 100 miles south of Sydney. During the sex, a glass light fitting was ripped out of the wall above the bed injuring her nose and mouth.

She later suffered depression and was unable to continue working for the Australian government, says the Sydney Morning Herald.

Initially, the woman's claim for workers' compensation for her "physical and psychological injuries" was approved by the government's insurer, Comcare. But the claim was later rejected by an administrative tribunal which decided she had not suffered the injuries in the course of her employment and the government had "not induced or encouraged" her sexual conduct.

The tribunal also concluded that sex was "not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay" such as showering, sleeping and cleaning your teeth.

In a statement to the tribunal the woman's sexual partner admitted they were "going hard" when the accident occurred. "I do not know if we bumped the light or it just fell off," he said. "I think she was on her back when it happened but I was not paying attention because we were rolling around."

The tribunal's ruling was overturned in May this year by a Federal Court judge who rejected the finding that the sex had to be condoned by the government if the woman were to qualify for compensation. Now the full bench of the Federal Court has upheld that decision and the five-year legal battle appears to be over.

But Comcare may not have given up. Its spokesman indicated today it was considering taking the case to the High Court, Australia's highest legal authority. "Workers need to be clear about their entitlements and employers should have an understanding of their responsibilities and how to support their staff. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.