Beware The Company Parking Lot
There is a small parking lot where you work that has a dozen or so unassigned spaces. It is convenient and, your employer has explained, is available for you to use at no cost. The free spaces are a perk that you utilize regularly. So, what happens if you park and while walking to the building entrance you slip on some ice and fall? Who is responsible for your injuries?
It very well may be your unlucky day.
Under Oregon’s workers’ compensation law, injuries that occur inside the premises of your workplace most likely are covered. But injuries that happen outside the building often are not covered, because travel to and from your job (think, driving to and from home) are not considered "work-related" because you are not paid for the time it takes you to commute.
The Workers’ Compensation Board, which reviews claim denials and other benefit disputes recently struggled with the sticky question of parking lots and decided a worker who slipped and fell on ice could not claim compensation for her injuries – which includes employer-paid medical care, lost wages or permanent disability. The Board found that the employer was allowed to use the parking lot under the terms of the office lease agreement, but wasn’t required by the lease to maintain it in bad weather. "[T]he record does not establish that the employer owned, controlled, or had a right or the obligation to control the parking lot where the injury occurred."
Never mind that "its lease agreement obligated [the Employer] to ‘periodically inspect the Premises to identify any conditions that are dangerous or in need of maintenance or repair’ and ‘the Tenant shall promptly provide Landlord with notice of any such conditions.’ "
So, even though the Employer had a legal obligation to inspect the premises and "promptly" alert the landlord to dangerous conditions (slippery ice that makes walking treacherous is "dangerous" in my experience), the victim of the dangerous condition is responsible for her injuries?
But that isn’t the end of it. If an employer is responsible for a dangerous parking lot, then an injured worker must use workers’ compensation insurance as their sole recourse, even if the employer was grossly negligent nor even reckless not inspecting the lot and alerting the landlord. See, without access to claim workers’ compensation coverage, the injured worker now can bring a civil action against her employer for its negligence of inspection that led to her personal injury.
I wonder how the boss will feel if they are served with a lawsuit for negligence and a demand for tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars?
Karma, they say, is a cruel mistress.
~ Jim Edmunson