Does workers’ compensation cover an employee who slips and falls in the parking lot on their way into work? These cases can go either way. They largely depend on how involved their employer is in where their employees park. The circumstances vary from case to case and often determine the outcome.
At one end of the spectrum is a lot that is owned and operated by the employer, with a portion designated for employees only, and the employer requiring the employee to park in that portion. It’s almost certain to be a work injury if a slip and fall occurs in this type of parking area. At the other end of the spectrum is an employer who doesn’t own or manage the parking lot, doesn’t tell employees where to park, and the lot where the worker fell is a public lot where anyone can park. There is really no significant connection to the employer, and a slip and fall in this situation would probably not be a work injury.
Recent case law suggests that there is a growing middle ground, as most cases tend to fall somewhere within this broad spectrum. For example, what happens when the employer is in an industrial park? There are office suites throughout the building, with continuous parking along all of the various entrances. The lot was open to the public – any workers or visitors could park anywhere. And the employer does not own or operate the lot. However, the employer directs the employees to park nearest to its office suite. This action by the employer – telling employees to park in front of the office suite – is probably enough to put this worker’s slip and fall into the work-injury category.
In order to have a work injury and be eligible for benefits in Illinois, the injury must arise out of and in the course of one’s employment. In parking lot cases, it comes down to the individual facts of the case. Those who don’t have a valid workers’ compensation claim may have a third-party claim against the owner/operator of the parking lot. This would be a typical personal injury case, litigated in court.
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— Junira A. Castillo