Home > Uncategorized > Where to Park the Liability – on Parking Lots and Workers’ Comp (Part 3 of 3)

Where to Park the Liability – on Parking Lots and Workers’ Comp (Part 3 of 3)

October 19th, 2012

“Cheer up,” I told my brother-in-law, Jasper.  “Not all injuries sustained in parking lots are compensable.”  At that, Jasper seemed to rekindle the possibility of a parking-lot obstacle course and he began to listen closely.

For example, in the case of Jessica Rodgers v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, an employee took a break from work to go to the bank.  She then returned to the work parking lot and arranged her money before stepping out of her car and returning to work.  In between her car and the building, however, a “biker,” who had followed her from the bank, attacked her and stole her money.

Even though the injury was sustained during work hours, between starting and finishing the day’s shift, and in the employer parking lot, the Court of Appeal held that the injury was not compensable because the cause of the injury was formed independent of any work-related activity – the biker just wanted to rob her, regardless of where she worked or who she was.

Likewise, in the panel decision of Basil Perkins v. City of Los Angeles, the applicant, a city animal control officer, was shot while napping in his work-vehicle, while parked in the employer-owned lot, and wearing his uniform.  As his home was over 130 miles away, he made a regular practice of napping in his car after a shift had ended.

Initially, the workers’ compensation Judge found the injury compensable, but the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board reversed, finding the injury was not compensable, as the shift had ended, and the employee was only in the parking lot for his convenience.  In other words, the scope of employment cannot be artificially extended by dallying on the employer’s premises.

The same occurred when a worker arrived to work too early, as in the writ denied case of Paul Grove (Dec’d), Sharon Grove (Widow) v. Miller Coors, LLC. In that case, the employee had arrived to work early and had used the restroom at work less than two hours before the start of his shift, when he sustained an injury in the restroom.  There, the workers’ compensation Judge found the injury to be non-compensable.

Fortunately, Jasper never got to try out his obstacle course idea – the wheel barrel industry took a down-turn, and he decided expanding beyond his garage was not a good idea at this time.  Regardless, here are some take-away rules:

  1. Arriving at an employer-owned or provided parking lot begins the scope of the employment relationship and ends the commute, so long as the arrival is within the regular time for employment.
  2. If travel to the employer or the employer’s parking lot presents a “special risk” to the employees, then the time during which the employee is exposed to the risk will not be barred by the Going and Coming Rule.
  3. Injuries sustained in an employer-provided parking lot are subject to AOE/COE analysis, so injuries sustained for reasons unrelated to work, such as robberies, will not be compensable, unless the special risk doctrine applies.
  4. Whatever the liability for workers’ compensation, the “Going and Coming” rule is not subject to the premises rule for civil liability and respondeat superior, as found by the Court of Appeal in Dean Hartline v. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.
  5. Do NOT invest in the wheel-barrel market if the president of your company is busy planning an obstacle course for his employees trying to get to work.


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