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Will workers' comp cover parking lot injuries?

Workers' compensation provides a safety net for employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. Generally speaking, employees can't get workers' comp for injuries that took place while commuting to or from work. A car accident on the way to work, for example, probably wouldn't be covered.

However, not all cases are clear-cut. There can be gray areas when it comes to determining where, exactly, the employee's commute ends and job begins.

A common example involves injuries in work parking lots or ramps. Many employers provide parking for their workers. Some even require workers to use certain lots or designated parking spots.

Two recent cases examine these tricky situations.

Case 1: A fall in a parking garage subsidized by the employer

In a Pennsylvania case, a woman tripped in a parking garage after her shift. The garage was connected to her worksite via skyway, and her employer subsidized parking spots for employees.

However, the employer didn't actually own the garage or maintain it. Nor did the company require employees to park there.

The result? The woman was unsuccessful in her attempt to get workers' comp coverage for the injury.

Case 2: A fall near a designated parking spot required by the employer

By contrast, in Oklahoma, an employee fell on a sidewalk while making her way into work at a university campus. Her employer required workers to park in a specific lot on campus, which it owned and maintained. The fall occurred near the employee's assigned space in the parking lot.

The outcome in this case? Her workers' comp claim was successful because she was injured on work premises while following her employer's instructions to park in a mandated spot.

The takeaway

Of course, every case is different, and Oklahoma law is not binding on Pennsylvania courts. Nonetheless, employees might be entitled to workers' compensation for parking-lot injuries in special situations. That's why you should always consult with an attorney if you think you may have a claim.

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