Traumatic Brain Injury at the work Christmas party – was it caused during the course of employment?

16 DEC 2022


The Festive Season has well and truly started. Most of us are having work Christmas parties and we’re all excited that it is almost the end of the year. But, what happens when you have too much fun at a Christmas party, even if it’s outside of your work hours?

The Personal Injury Commission considered this situation earlier this year.

A work Christmas party was held at the local Tavern. Food, beer, wines and spirits were provided. Everyone was having a great time. It was about 12.30am when the employees were advised that the Tavern was closing, but no-one wanted the party to end so the employer invited his staff to come back to his house. The employer had a large house which backed onto a golf course.

More drinks were provided at the employer’s house and the party continued into the early hours. There was a random conversation about kangaroos at the golf course when one of the employees stated that he had never seen a kangaroo. Another employee suggested that it would be a great idea to hop onto the employer’s golf cart and travel around the golf course to see if they could spot a kangaroo. Three employees hopped onto the golf cart, including the employer. A few minutes later, the golf cart tipped, causing one of the employees to sustain a traumatic brain injury.

There was a dispute as to whether the sustained injury arose during the course of the employment.  The Senior Member of the Personal Injury Commission decided that the traumatic brain injury was a workplace injury. In forming this the conclusion, the Senior Member considered the following factors:

          a)         The Christmas party was exclusively held by the employer for his employees.

          b)         After the Christmas party finished at the Tavern, the employer organised a taxi to take employees to his house.

          c)         Further drinks were provided to the employees whilst they were at the employer’s house.

          d)         No one was asked to leave their house.

Employers’ obligations will continue even outside of work hours, if it can be established that there is a sufficient link between the event and the employment. Therefore, if you or someone you know has been injured at a Christmas party or other work event, please contact us to further discuss your options.


The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.


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