The Christmas party that ended with a knee injury

An employee sustained a knee injury at the office Christmas party and wanted recognition as a work-related injury. The High Court held that although it had occurred on the job, the injury was not work-related.

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The Danish Industrial Injury Act lays down a number of criteria which must be met for an injury to qualify as work-related and for the employee to be entitled to compensation. For one thing, the injury must occur on the job. For another, the injury must be caused or aggravated by conditions on the job.

This case concerned an employee who sustained an injury at the office Christmas party. At some point, a mobile hot dog stand parked outside for the employees to have a midnight snack. While standing in line for her hotdog, the employee fainted and injured her knee on the ground, thereby sustaining meniscus damage.

The issue before the High Court was, first of all, if the injury had been sustained on the job and then if the injury had been aggravated by the paving tiles used as surfacing on the premises.

During the proceedings, the Medico-Legal Council was asked to provide an opinion, and the opinion found that the employee's meniscal injury had occurred because, when falling over, she had twisted her knee before hitting the ground. The meniscal injury would therefore have been the same if the employee had fainted somewhere else. 

The High Court held that the injury sustained at the Christmas party had occurred on the job. Based on the opinion of the Medico-Legal Council, however, the High Court held that the employee's injury had not been aggravated by conditions at work and that the injury should therefore not be recognised as a work-related injury.

Norrbom Vinding notes

  • that it is important to note that although an injury which is sustained, for example, at the annual Christmas party is recognised as a work-related injury under the Industrial Injury Act, this does not necessarily mean that the employer will be liable to pay compensation for the injury.

The content of the above is not, and should not be a substitute for legal advice.

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