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Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation for an Injury in the Parking Lot at Work?

The following post is part of our Law Student Blog Writing Project, and is authored by Caitlin DiCrease, a law student from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

What is the “Coming and Going Rule?”

Workers’ compensation covers injuries that occur to an employee during the course of his or her employment. Typically, an employee can only recover workers’ compensation for injuries that occur in workplace setting. This generally does not include injuries that happen as an employee is traveling to or from work. Under both Kentucky and Ohio law, injuries that occur during travel are generally not considered work-related and therefore are not eligible for compensation. This legal standard is known as the “coming and going rule.”

However, in Kentucky, an employee’s injuries can be covered when a worker is injured while “on the employer’s operating premises and not substantially deviating from the normal activities of coming or going.” Under this exception, injuries in a parking lot that is under the employer’s control will often be covered by workers’ compensation.

Ohio also usually does not provide workers’ compensation for injuries during travel, under a similar coming and going rule. Ohio law, however, allows workers’ compensation to cover injuries within an employer’s parking lot if the injury “arises from the employment relationship.” In both states, the employee must be injured while doing an activity that is related to his or her employment to be eligible for workers’ compensation.

How Kentucky Case Law Decided to Cover Workers Comp Injuries in Parking Lots

In 2015, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that workers’ compensation can cover an employee’s injury that occurs in a company-controlled parking lot. In this case, a woman was walking from her car and slipped on a patch of black ice which was on the sidewalk in front of her office.

The Kentucky court found that her activities leading up to her injury – namely, parking her car in the employer’s lot and walking on the sidewalk to her office – were work-related and therefore covered under workers’ compensation law. The sidewalk where she was injured was held to be a part of her employer’s “operating premises” due to the level of control that the employer had over the area. Because her injury was work-related and happened on the employer’s premises, the court allowed her to receive workers’ compensation.

The court looked to several factors to determine that the parking lot and sidewalk were part of the employer’s operating premises and that the use of that space was work-related. If employees need to use the sidewalk and parking lot to gain access to their workplace and the area is “in the control of the employer,” an injury occurring in that area will qualify for workers’ compensation. Also, if the employer has provided a parking lot for the use of its employees, the lot will be considered part of the employer’s operating premises. If an employee parks outside of the lot or area that has been designated for employee use, any injury that occurs while going into the office will not be covered by workers’ compensation. The employer need not own the lot for the injury to be covered.

Essentially, if your employer has provided you with a place to park in order to access your workplace, injuries that happen within that parking in that area for work purposes can be covered by a proper workers’ compensation claim. If you park in an area that is not controlled by the employer and that the employer has not pointed out to you as designated parking, injuries that occur within that space will not be covered. The courts will look to the specific facts of the case to decide whether the injury will qualify for workers’ compensation.

How Ohio Case Law Makes it More Difficult to Get Workers Comp for a Parking Lot Injury

Ohio evaluates injuries in an employee parking lot differently than the Kentucky court. In general, travel to or from work is not covered by Ohio’s workers’ compensation claims. In Ohio, employees that are “fixed” in one location – those who complete their employment duties at a specific and identifiable workplace – will not have travel related injuries covered by workers’ compensation. Only if travel is a “special hazard” created by the scope of the employment will an Ohio court allow resulting injuries to be covered.

However, Ohio courts may allow recovery for injuries that happen in an employer’s parking lot. For example, an employee who was injured on a public street adjacent to the employee parking lot has been held by one Ohio court to have been acting “within the zone of employment” such that her injuries qualified for workers’ compensation. Parking lot injuries will be evaluated on a fact specific basis, similarly to in Kentucky.

The courts look at how close the scene of the accident is to the workplace, the degree of control the employer has over the scene of the accident, and if the employee was at the scene of the accident for the benefit of the employer. These factors help the Ohio courts decide whether or not the injury happened while doing an activity that is related to the person’s employment. If the parking lot injury did occur during an employment related activity, it can qualify for workers’ compensation. Typically, workplace parking lots will fulfill the requirements under Ohio law.

Have you been injured at work? Even in difficult cases, our attorneys are here to help. Call Lawrence & Associates for a free consultation today. We’re Working Hard for the Working Class, and we want to help you!