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Workers’ Compensation Case Study: Off-Property Injury

By July 11, 2011August 22nd, 2018

This case involves an employee who was injured near her workplace but not on workplace property. Whether your business is nursery/landscape, real estate, manufacturing, refuse, marina or RV/auto dealer, this scenario could easily happen to you. Read on to learn what the court decided.

Judy Cardwell arrived at work and parked her vehicle in the parking lot next door. She walked across the parking lot toward the back door of the business, slipped on black ice approximately three feet in front of the door, fell, and broke her wrist. The employer and its insurance carrier denied her claim for workers compensation benefits and she appealed.

The only issue was whether the injury Cardwell sustained was compensable because it occurred on the business premises. The employer leased the building but did not control the parking lot adjacent to it and had no obligation to maintain it.

Cardwell’s appeal was based on four points that she argued the Commission erred in:

  • Determining that the parties stipulated that the sole issue for the Commission to decide was whether Cardwell’s injury occurred on the insured’s premises
  • Failing to find as fact that opening the business (including unlocking the back door) before 7:30 a.m. was a requirement of her job
  • Finding that Cardwell was in the parking lot at the time of her injury
  • Failing to find that Cardwell’s injury was an “injury by accident arising and out of and in the course of employment”

In its decision, the Court of Appeals cited the “going and coming” rule that generally states that injuries an employee sustains while traveling to and from work do not arise in the course of employment and are not compensable. Cardwell’s job duty to open the shop was deemed irrelevant due to the Commission’s finding that Cardwell had not reached the shop’s door when the injury occurred and was not in the process of unlocking it as required for the injury to arise out of and in the course of employment. Finally, nothing in the record suggested that the employer “provided” the area where Cardwell fell as “some access to the premises.” As a result, it affirmed the Commission’s ruling that Cardwell’s slip and fall was not an “injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment“

Contact The Flanders Group today to learn about our Workers’ Compensation programs to help you manage risk – we are one of the leading providers in New York State. Call 800-462-6435