Did Parking Lot Fall Occur in Course and Scope of Employment?
A teacher at the child development lab, a child care facility on the campus of Oklahoma State University, arrived to work on a cold and icy morning.
The parking lot and sidewalk surrounding the building where the teacher worked was owned and maintained by the university. The teacher was given a parking permit by the university, which gave her permission and required her to park in the lot.
After the teacher parked in the designated lot, she got out of her car, walked across the parking lot, and stepped onto the curb to go into the building. As she stepped onto the curb, she slipped and fell on ice.
On an injury report the teacher’s supervisor marked that the injury occurred on the employer’s premises. Also, the university initially determined that the teacher was in the course and scope of her employment when she fell and provided treatment and temporary total disability benefits.
The teacher subsequently sought additional treatment and compensation for her injuries.
The university denied compensability, arguing that her injury did not arise in the course and scope of her employment. The administrative law judge determined that the teacher’s injury did not occur in the course and scope of employment and denied her claim for additional treatment and compensation.
The Workers’ Compensation Commission affirmed the ALJ’s decision. The teacher appealed.
Was the ALJ correct in finding that the teacher’s injury was not compensable?
- A. Yes. The teacher’s injury did not occur on the premises of her employment.
- B. No. The teacher’s actions at the time of her injury were related to and in furtherance of her employment.
- C. Yes. The teacher was not “on the clock” when she was injured.
How the court ruled
A is incorrect. The court pointed out that the university specifically admitted on the employee injury report that the incident occurred on its premises. The court found that the teacher arrived at her employer’s place of business and was on the university’s premises when she fell. The parking lot and sidewalk were on the university’s premises.
C is incorrect. A dissenting judge asserted that the workers’ compensation law excludes an injury occurring in a parking lot before the worker clocks in or begins work for the employer and that the injury fell within the going and coming rule.
However, the majority found that because the teacher’s actions at the time of her injury were related to and in furtherance of the business of the university and she was on the premises of the university when she fell she was in the course and scope of her employment.
B is Correct. In Legarde-Bober v. Oklahoma State University, No. 114038 (Okla. 06/28/16), the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that the teacher’s injury occurred in the course and scope of her employment. The court found that the commission erred when it denied compensation for the teacher’s claim.
The court found that the teacher’s actions at the time of her injury were related to and in furtherance of the business of the university’s child development lab. The court also pointed out that at the time of her injury she was following the university’s instructions.
Editor’s note: This feature is not intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.