Whether it's an unsalted icy surface, a deep pothole in the pavement or a reckless speeding driver, parking lots - yes, parking lots - can be a lot more treacherous than they appear when it pertains to work-related injuries. Typically, an injury sustained while walking to and from your car didn't actually occur while you were on the clock inside your place of employment, but it can still qualify for compensation benefits under certain circumstances.
It's important to remain educated on the exact grounds for workers' compensation in order to take the correct steps to acquire the compensation you deserve. Don't be the one cheated out of a check, forced to cover your own medical expenses when - in actuality - the proper precautions weren't met.
That's where we're here to help.
A Fine Line
The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act says an injury or occupational disease qualifies for workers' compensation under three factors:
- The injury must occur inside the employer's "premises"
- The injury must be deemed related, or required, by the nature of one's employment and
- The injury was caused from the condition of the employer's premises or by the operation of the employer's business.
Sometimes it's complicated, though. Sure, a parking lot located outside the fence of a construction site isn't technically within the site's premises, however, if it's owned, leased or controlled by the employer to a degree where that property could be considered an integral part of the employer's business, the parking lot is still considered grounds for compensatory benefits.
But what if it's a lot that you're suggested - but not required - to park in?
Common Parking Lot Hazards
The examples below are some of the everyday instances that could potentially cause parking lot-related injuries or damages to your vehicle.
Pavement Issues: Unsalted ice, potholes, cracks or uneven speed bumps
Signs: Confusing signs and directions could cause increased risk to accidents
Security: Is your employee parking lot under video surveillance for potential criminal activity? Are there security guards for if you're entering your car late at night?
Lighting: Is the parking lot well-lit? Potholes could be if areas aren't well-lit.
Valet Services: Is your company's valet service safely driving your vehicle to and from its parking spot?
Case by Case: Real-World Examples
The National Workers' Compensation Defense Network published an article highlighting different instances where the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court approved or reversed compensatory benefits for parking lot injuries.
A couple of examples:
Approved: Newhouse (530 A.2d 545), involved a parking-lot sustained injury where an employee was thrown from the hood of a co-worker's car on an access road on the employer's premises, when the co-worker made an unexpected turn due to a closed exit gate. The court concluded that the closed exit gate and a bend in the road were conditions on the employer's premises contributing to the employee's injury. Compensation was provided.
Reversed: Quality Bicycle Products, Inc. v. WCAB, involved a parking-lot sustained injury where an employee was initially granted compensatory benefits for a knee injury suffered while leaving work due to a family emergency, which was affirmed by the Appeal Board, before later being reversed by the PA Commonwealth Court. The commonwealth concluded that although the injury was sustained on the employer's premises, there wasn't concrete proof that the condition of the premises, as cited in the PA Workers' Compensation Act, was the direct cause of it. The employee later underwent surgery, and was forced to cover his own medical expenses.
Let Dugan & Associates Help You
If you or someone you love has suffered from a parking lot injury while on the job, the team at Dugan & Associates is here for you. Our team of expert workers' compensation lawyers is ready to look at your case and make sure you receive the maximum monetary compensation available to you. Contact us online or give us a call at 412-353-3572 for your free consultation today.