"
skip to Main Content

02 4050 0330

    • Medical Negligence
          • Medical Negligence

            We believe you deserve the best in medical care and we understand the trauma experienced when that care is less than adequate. That’s why we hold medical professionals accountable when medical care and treatment fall short of expected standards and result in adverse outcomes.

            Read More

    • Women’s Health
          • Women’s Health

            We know that there is disparity in women’s health care, treatment, and support. We are committed to improving the lives of women and strongly advocating for their wellbeing.  That is why we take a stand and hold medical professionals accountable when medical care falls short of expected standards by delivering the best outcome in medical negligence claims affecting women.

            Read More

    • Hospital Negligence
          • Hospital Negligence

            We understand you may feel let down because you have experienced inadequate or negligent care and treatment in a hospital or medical facility. Your wellbeing is most important to us and we are committed to supporting you with compassion and holding medical professionals accountable for breach of duty and negligent care.

            Read More

    • Clinical Support
          • Clinical Support

            Experiencing poor or adverse outcomes from allied health treatment can be distressing and life changing. We are here to support you through your claim and it is our aim to hold allied health professionals accountable for their breach of care by delivering the outcome you deserve to your negligence claims.

            Read More

    • I need help
          • Not Sure where to start?

            Hello, I’m Jade. I’m here to help you with a quick discovery call that will help us better understand your legal concerns. This way, I can connect you with the lawyer who is best suited to assist you with your situation.

            Your well-being is important to us, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

            Call me on 02 4050 0330 or email admin@conradcurrylaw.com.au

    • Personal Injury
          • Personal Injury

            If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, our specialist team of Personal Injury Lawyers is here to support you with compassion and understanding providing you with the right advice. Our team has substantial experience and expertise in these matters to deliver the outcomes you deserve from your claim.

            Read More

    • Work Injury
    • Motor Vehicle Accidents
          • Motor Vehicle Accidents

            We are here to support you and give you the clarity, guidance and the right legal advice if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident. Our compassionate team of professionals in Personal Injury law have the technical expertise and a wealth of experience to win you the compensation you deserve.

            Read More

    • Public Place Liability
          • Public Liability

            Our specialist team in Personal Injury law is here to support you in accessing proper compensation if you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence. We have cutting edge expertise and experience in public liability claims to deliver the outcome you deserve.

            Read More

    • Abuse
          • Institutional Abuse

            We strongly believe that educational institutions must be held accountable when failing to protect children while in their care. If you have experienced institutional physical or sexual abuse, our specialist team in Personal Injury law is here to support you with compassion and offer our technical expertise and experience to deliver the best outcome in your case.

            Read More

    • Workers Compensation
          • Workers Compensation

            When you sustain an injury or illness because of work, you may be entitled to  compensation. Our specialist team in Personal Injury Law is here to support you with compassion and understanding with the right advice. We have substantial technical expertise to deliver the best possible outcome from your claim.

            Read More

    • I Need Help
          • Not Sure where to start?

            Hello, I’m Jade. I’m here to help you with a quick discovery call that will help us better understand your legal concerns. This way, I can connect you with the lawyer who is best suited to assist you with your situation.

            Your well-being is important to us, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

            Call me on 02 4050 0330 or email admin@conradcurrylaw.com.au

    • Wills & Estate Planning
          • Wills and Estates

            When we provide advice on estate planning, we believe  in giving advice on options to mitigate the risks of litigation by potentially unhappy family members and protecting your assets from claims. Our legal team is here to support you and address your concerns regarding your estate planning. We have immense experience in these matters, providing you with advice and representation for your unique situation and delivering the best outcomes for your case.

            Read More

    • Powers of Attorney
    • Contest A Will
          • Contest A Will

            We have immense experience and specialised knowledge in family provision and wills disputes Where you have not been properly and adequately provided for under a will or where you suspect that the person making the will may not have had capacity or exercised their own free will, you need a lawyer with extensive experience and expertise. Our team of Lawyers will  provide you with advice and representation for your unique situation and deliver the best outcomes for your case.

            Read More

    • Probate & Deceased Estates
    • Enduring Guardian
    • Family Provision
    • I Need Help
          • Not Sure where to start?

            Hello, I’m Jade. I’m here to help you with a quick discovery call that will help us better understand your legal concerns. This way, I can connect you with the lawyer who is best suited to assist you with your situation.

            Your well-being is important to us, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

            Call me on 02 4050 0330 or email admin@conradcurrylaw.com.au

    • Other Services Overview
          • Conrad Curry Can assist you with a variety of services

            Our solicitors are highly experienced in providing you with expert legal advice and will keep you informed every step of the way. It’s good to know that our firm is trusted and effective with a high success rate.

            Read More

    • Professional Negligence
          • Professional Negligence

            We rely on professionals in all aspects of our lives to provide us with proper advice on which to make decisions about our financial and legal affairs. When you are let down by poor advice the results can be devastating.  We are here to support you in your claim for compensation with clarity, guidance and the right advice to achieve the outcome you deserve.

            Read More

    • Malicious Prosecution
          • Malicious Prosecution

            We believe in standing up for those people who are falsely accused and prosecuted. Our experienced legal team is here to support you with compassion and provide you with clarity, guidance, and the right advice in your claim for compensation.

            Read More

    • General Litigation
    • I Need Help
          • Not Sure where to start?

            Hello, I’m Jade. I’m here to help you with a quick discovery call that will help us better understand your legal concerns. This way, I can connect you with the lawyer who is best suited to assist you with your situation.

            Your well-being is important to us, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

            Call me on 02 4050 0330 or email admin@conradcurrylaw.com.au

    • What to Expect
          • What to expect

            We are your law firm for life. You can count on us for the best legal advice and compassionate support. We understand the challenges you are facing and we want you to know that you don’t have to navigate the often daunting process alone. We are here when you need us. Let us help you find your way forward with our empathetic and efficient approach. Contact us. You can call us on (02) 4050 0330 for a free initial no-obligation consultation or book an appointment online for an in-person consultation or an online video appointment.

  • No Win/No Fee Options

Worker killed while working from home

On 16 June 2010 between 7:30am and 4pm, the worker, Michel Carroll was attacked and killed by her de facto partner, Steven Hill who was subsequently found not guilty of murder by reason of mental illness. Michel and Steven were employed as financial advisors by their company, S L Hill & Associates Pty Ltd.

Michel had two children, a 16-year-old son and a newborn baby. Her son gave evidence that she worked from home while caring for the baby, regularly worked from her bedroom and wore her pyjamas.

Both children made claims under the NSW Workers Compensation Act 1987 for payment of death benefits including funeral costs, a lump sum benefit at the time of death of $455,900 and a weekly payment of $114.30 per child until they reached the age of 16 or 21 if they were studying full time.

Liability for the claim was declined by the Worker’s Compensation Nominal Insurer (“insurer”).

First decision

On 16 January 2018 an Arbitrator in the Workers Compensation Commission (“the Commission”) rejected the application for death benefits. The arbitrator was not satisfied that the injury suffered by Michel was inflicted in the course of her employment or that it arose out of her employment and doubted that employment was a substantial contributing factor.

First Appeal

The children appealed the decision.

On 7 May 2018 Presidential Member Keating at the Commission revoked the decision of the arbitrator and remitted it to another Arbitrator for re-determination. He noted that the Arbitrator could not be satisfied Michel was in the course of her employment when she died as the evidence had not indicated her time of death. The Presidential Member found this to be an error as the time of death whilst important was not determinative of whether there was a connection between Michel’s employment and her death to establish she was in the course of her employment when she was killed.

The Presidential Member highlighted the evidence of Michel’s 16 year old son combined with the photographs taken by police depicting work items in the bedroom indicated that she “was either actually performing employment related duties at the time of her death or was on-call.”

Second decision

On 19 December 2018 a different Arbitrator at the Commission issued a certificate of determined finding that Michel died as a result of injury arising out of and in the course of her employment and that her employment was a substantial contributing factor to the injuries. The Arbitrator ordered payments in favour of the children.

Second Appeal

On 16 January 2019 the insurer appealed submitting that the Arbitrator had erred in determining that:

  1. The worker’s employment caused or materially contributed to the injury and that the worker’s death was an injury arising out of or in the course of her employment. The insurer argued the Arbitrator erred in looking at the motive for the assault and that the cause of her death was Steven’s mental illness which was not a part of her employment.
  2. The worker was performing work duties or was on call at the time of the injury and that the injury arose out of the course of her employment. The insurer argued the Arbitrator erred in finding that Michel was engaged in work duties or that she was on call as there was uncertainty about the time of the assault and death and what she was doing at this time noting she usually commenced work at 9am, her office was on another floor, she was still in her pyjamas, there was no evidence that work had been planned for that day or any work-related activity from her telephone and computer records and there was no evidence that the she was on call on the day or that there were fixed times where she would be “on call”.
  3. The worker’s employment was a substantial contributing factor to her injury and death. The insurer argued that Michel’s employment had little connection to her injury and death and that the cause of her death was her personal relationship with Steven who suffered from schizophrenia and paranoid delusions.

 

On 22 July 2019 Deputy President Wood (“DP”) at the Commission rejected each of the three grounds of the appeal and dismissed the application.

In relation to the first ground, the DP found the motive was a relevant consideration to be considered by the Arbitrator and the Arbitrator found a causal connection based on the evidence available which was that Steven held beliefs about the way Michel was conducting her duties, had mistrusted her in relation to the business and that these matters were on his mind shortly before the assault.

In relation to the second ground, the DP found that Arbitrator had not fallen into error as the evidence was that Michel and Steven lived and worked in the same premises and that she had arranged her work around the needs of her baby and the evidence supported that fact that she had either commenced work or was required to be available for calls at the time of her death.

In relation to the third ground, the DP found the Arbitrator had applied the relevant authorities and that the findings were open to her on the evidence and no error had been established.

Third Appeal to NSW Court of Appeal

The insurer appealed the presidential decision to the NSW Court of Appeal.

One of the insurer’s arguments was that because Steven’s delusions were not real they could not form part of the conditions of Michel’s employment, meaning, there could be no connection between the employment and her death. On 31 March 2020, this argument was rejected by Judge Basten who stated:

“It is not in doubt that a person can suffer compensable harm as a result of a physical attack, verbal abuse, sexual harassment or bullying at work. The source of such conduct may be a co-worker or a supervisor… an injury caused by conduct which would not be described as “reasonable action” is compensable. It does not matter whether the conduct was carried out on the basis of mistaken facts, or vindictively and without any justification (such as the refusal of a sexual advance). There is no reason to exclude delusional conduct from a potential cause of compensable harm…In principle, the conduct of a co-worker or supervisor (Mr Hill was both) forms part of the employment conditions of the injured worker.

Judge Basten went on to comment that domestic violence between couples in the same business who work from home normally would not be compensable, but in this case:

The findings of fact demonstrated a palpable and direct connection between Mr Hill’s delusions, Ms Carroll’s employment and the harm suffered by her.”

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and the children have retained their entitlement to death benefits.

The above is a reminder that each case must be considered on its own facts. In the normal course of things, someone assaulted in their bedroom while wearing their pyjamas before the commencement of their contractual work hours may not ordinarily be covered by workers compensation legislation, but a thorough examination of the facts indicates this isn’t always the case.

 

 

 

Recent Articles

Stay Updated With Legal News
Subscribe To Our Newsletter

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.