While an employee can slip and fall any time of year, the risk significantly increases during the winter months due to freezing temperatures and winter precipitation. In fact, the CDC reports approximately 1 million Americans are injured annually as a result of slipping and falling on snow or ice. Of these falls, 17,000 are fatal. Those who slip and fall on snow or ice at work may be entitled to workers’ compensation, but what about employees who slip and fall in the workplace parking lot? Steve Donovan, Axcet HR Solutions Director of Risk Management, answers in this Ask the Expert.
Are Employee Slip and Fall Injuries That Occur in Workplace Parking Lots Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Answer: Each state has its own (very specific) workers’ compensation laws, and state courts vary in their interpretations of the “coming and going” rule and what is work-related. Therefore, an employer must review each case with its insurance carrier to determine if the individual is covered. However, in general...
Workers are generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits as long as they are an employee of the company who is injured at work or while within the scope of their employment duties. To determine whether or not an injured employee is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, consider whether or not the injury is work-related and review the “coming and going” rule.
- Work-Related Injuries. An injury is generally work-related when it arises out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. It doesn’t matter whether the employee has clocked in or out at the time of the injury, if the employee is required to perform a duty that benefits the employer, then the injury is often covered. For example, an after-hours employee team building event or dinner with a client.
- The “Coming and Going” Rule. Under the “coming and going” rule, generally, if an employee is injured while commuting to and from a site of employment at the beginning or end of his or her shift, this would not be a workers’ compensation injury. However, an injury that occurs when traveling between work locations, going to business meetings and attending work-related education will generally be considered covered under workers’ compensation. The “coming and going” rule ends once the employee reaches the employer’s premises.
A slip and fall injury in a workplace parking lot can be a gray area. Technically the “coming and going” rule has ended, but where does the responsibility lie with regards to the parking lot. Pending the parking lot is owned or controlled by the employer, when an employee slips and falls on ice, it’s often covered by workers’ compensation — even if it occurred during a normal commute or while on a lunch or rest break.
However, if the parking lot is not owned by the employer, then the employer should contact its workers’ compensation carrier to determine whether to treat that particular injury as a workers’ compensation claim or not.