Montgomery & Bucks County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Denies Compensation for Parking Lot Injury

A recent case in Pennsylvania points out some discrepancies in workers' compensation claims and distributions of benefits. Generally speaking, injuries in an employer's parking lot are not covered by workers' compensation if they occur as the worker is coming or going from the workplace, whether or not he or she has yet clocked in. Injuries that take place when an employee is engaged in employment activities, whether in the parking lot or while driving or at a work-related venue, are covered.

Proving Liability for Workers' Comp

In order to claim workers' compensation, the injury must have:

  • Occurred on the employer's premises
  • Occurred while the employee was on said premises as a requirement of employment
  • Occurred due to the condition of the premises or by some aspect of the employer's operation

The case in question, Quality Bicycle Products, Inc. v. WCAB, was eventually decided by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on April 25, 2016. Originally, the claimant was awarded workers' compensation benefits by a judge and the decision was affirmed by the Appeal Board. In the end, however, the award was overturned and reversed the Commonwealth Court.

Circumstances of the Case

The claimant was paged over the intercom while working in his employer’s warehouse. He was paged to receive a call from his fiancée, who was hysterical that their 9-year-old daughter was missing from school. He informed his manager of the circumstances and left work immediately (the manager offered to clock him out). In his haste to reach his car, he felt a pop in his knee and fell to the ground, unable to stand. He was subsequently taken by ambulance to the hospital and eventually required surgery to repair his injured knee.

Originally, the claimant was awarded compensation benefits, affirmed by the Appeal Board, since he testified that he was injured in the parking lot in which he always parked for work, a parking lot in which his employer had told him to park. 

The reason the Commonwealth Court overturned and reversed the decision was that they determined that the accident, though it occurred on the employer's premises, did not occur during the course of employment and, further, that it had not been caused by "a condition on the premises." That is to say that the claimant never claimed that he tripped over a pothole, or that the surface was slippery. As a matter of fact, under oath during cross-examination, he testified that there was no problem with the parking lot that contributed to his injury. He stated that his knee simply "popped" and gave way.

This case demonstrates that workers' compensation cases can be trickier than they first appear. If you are injured at the workplace, or while engaged in employment activities, you should consult with a competent and reputable workers' compensation attorney who will be able to advise you concerning your options.

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