Recently, a local television station reported Black Ice on roads and parking lots. They talked about an employee of their own station who fell that morning because of Black Ice. That same day, I also had someone ask me if an employee that falls in a parking lot on the way to work was covered by workers compensation.
These falls can be work related, depending on exactly where they happen, what type of job the employee performs, and how much control the employer exerts over where employees park. This is all governed by the “Going and Coming Rule,” which normally prevents injuries that occur while commuting to and from work from being work related. The question is where, or when, does work start? Generally in Kentucky, if the employee falls on land that was primarily controlled by the employer, like a parking lot at a plant where only employees can park, then the fall is probably work related. Pierson v. Lexington Public Library, 987 S.W.2d 316 (Ky. 1999). If the fall occurs in the parking lot of a building with several tenants and the employer exerts little control over the lot, it may not be work related. K-Mart Discount Stores v. Schroeder, 623 S.W.2d 900 (Ky. 1981). Instructing the employee to park in certain areas might make the injury work related. Also, if the employee has a job that requires a lot of travel, like a deliveryman or outside salesman, the fall can be work related, even if it does not occur on the employer’s property. In addition, if the employer is receiving some type of benefit from the trip, other than just the employee coming to or from work, it may be work related.
For employees that travel, the going and coming rule is loosened. For traveling employees a lot of things have to be examnined. For example, the nature of the trip, the type of job, deviation from job duties, use of an employer owned vehicle, and many other factors. If the job requires a lot of travel, the employee may have a work related injury as soon as they leave their house. All of the facts have to be closely examined to determine if an injury to an employee that travels is work related.
So, if the TV station employee fell in a parking lot his employer controlled, he probably had a work related injury and is entitled to workers compensation.