In order to qualify as a work injury, your injury has to happen at work. That sounds simple enough, right?
Well, exactly what qualifies as “being at work” may not always be clear, particularly if you’re injured in the company parking lot. Whether you tripped over a loose piece of asphalt or fell because the lighting was so poor, you could have a serious injury that keeps you out of action for weeks. Are you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if that happens?
The Going and Coming Rule is often cited
Employers often try to deny parking lot claims based on the idea that employees are subject to the “going and coming” rule. With certain exceptions, the rule says that you’re only covered under workers’ compensation from the time you cross your employer’s threshold to the time you leave again. If your injury happens on your commute, it’s not considered a workplace injury.
However, employers are generally liable for you once you enter any area under their control. If your employer has a company parking lot that you’re expected to use, then you’re past your employer’s metaphorical doorstep as soon as you enter the lot. That means if you’re hit by another driver or you break your shoulder in a fall, you have every right to pursue workers’ compensation.
In fact, case law in California even holds that employees are not necessarily barred from a workers’ comp claim by the “going and coming” rule even when they’re injured on property outside their employer’s control – so long as they’re using that property to access their place of employment out of necessity. For example, if you have to use a public sidewalk to get from the building in which you work to your employer’s parking tower, a slip-and-fall there could still be considered a workplace accident.
Workers’ comp claims aren’t always as straightforward as they seem. If you’re having trouble with your claim, it may be time to seek legal guidance.