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You can’t sue twice for a workplace injury.


The Qld Appeal Court has rejected a government employee’s attempt to sue the state for work-related injuries . The worker stepped on a door pivot protruding from the floor of his workplace. He accepted workers compensation for an impairment incurred in the course of his employment by the Public Works Department.

The worker later took separate action against Arts Queensland for its alleged breach of the duty that it, as occupant, owed to lawful entrants.

The Court said the employer and the occupant of the workplace were each organisational units of the government, but not “separate juristic persons with a separate legal existence and the capacity to be sued”. It also held there was no distinction between the damages claim and the compensation claim. He said “occupier’s liability” is not a separate cause of action but part of ordinary law of negligence. An employer’s duty of care to employees had always included the provision of a safe place of work. The worker had given up his right to tortious damages by accepting compensation.

See State of Qld v Heraud [2011], QCA 297, 21/10/2011

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