You Be the Judge

Does Coming and Going Rule Block Supervisor’s Claim?

By: | January 23, 2014

Christina Lumbreras is a Legal Editor for Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

A quality assurance supervisor had a fixed place of employment in office space leased by her employer. The office building was shared by several tenants, and the parking was not restricted or assigned. There were parking areas around the building and along an access road in front of the building. The supervisor typically parked in a space along the access road.

The supervisor arrived for work and parked in her usual area. After exiting her car, she slipped and fell on ice. Her fall resulted in a fractured vertebrae and required surgery.

The supervisor filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

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The evidence showed the supervisor was a fixed situs employee, and her regular workplace was the employer’s leased office space. Her employment duties typically commenced after her arrival at the employer’s office. At the time of her fall, she had not yet commenced her employment duties.

The Industrial Commission denied the claim. The trial court upheld the commission’s decision, reasoning that the coming and going rule precluded workers’ compensation coverage.

The supervisor appealed, arguing that the zone of employment and special hazard exceptions to the coming and going rule applied to make her injury compensable.

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The court found that exceptions to the coming and going rule, including the totality of the circumstances exception, did not apply. The court explained that the supervisor’s fall occurred in relatively close proximity to the employer’s office. However, the employer did not exercise control over the parking area or derive any benefit from the supervisor’s decision to park there.

A is incorrect. The court found that the zone of employment exception to the coming and going rule did not apply, explaining that the location where the supervisor fell was not under her employer’s control. Parking along the side of the road was available for anyone. The employer did not require the supervisor to park her car in any particular place, and there were several ways to access the office building.

Even assuming the on-street parking was subject to private control, the court said that the entity controlling it would have been the employer’s landlord.

C is incorrect. The court rejected application of the special hazard exception. The court explained that the supervisor’s risk of falling on ice in a common parking area was not distinctive in nature or quantitatively greater than the risk faced by the general public. Also, the employer did not subject the supervisor to the risk. She was free to park anywhere.

How the court ruled: B. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that under the coming and going rule the supervisor was not entitled to benefits. Foster v. Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, et al., No. 25657 (Ohio Ct. App. 09/20/13).

Editor’s note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]