You Be the Judge

Is Parking Lot Stumble Compensable?

The court must consider whether an employer's ability to designate where a worker parks her car plays a role in the compensability of a parking lot injury.
By: | August 28, 2014

An assistant manager for a retail clothing store parked in the back lot of the shopping center near the back door of the store. When she left work, she walked to her car and put her purse on the passenger seat, and while walking around the back of the car to the driver’s side, she slipped and fell on black ice. She injured her right shoulder.

The assistant manager sought workers’ compensation benefits. The store denied the claim, arguing that the injury was not compensable because it did not occur on the store’s operating premises.

The assistant manager said that when she was hired, the store manager and a manager of the shopping center told her to park in the back lot. She admitted that other store employees parked in the front lot. Other employees said that other than during the holiday season, they received no instructions on where to park. No signs designated the back lot as an employee parking lot.

The administrative law judge found that the assistant manager’s injury did not occur within the store’s operating premises and was not compensable. The Workers’ Compensation Board reversed, finding that even though the store had no control over the parking lot, it controlled where employees parked. The board found that the assistant manager’s injury was within the store’s operating premises.

The store appealed.

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The court explained that in determining whether a parking facility is within an employer’s parking premises, it considers: 1) whether the employer directly or indirectly owns, maintains, or controls the parking facility; 2) whether the employer designated where in the parking facility its employees are to park; 3) whether the employee parked in the designated area; and 4) whether the employee was taking a reasonable path from her car to her workstation when injured.

The parties agreed that the store did not own the parking facilities and had no obligation to maintain the facilities. No evidence showed that any parking spaces were specially allocated to the store. Also, no evidence showed that the store had any influence over the shopping center’s maintenance of the parking facilities. The court found that the store exercised no control over the parking facilities.

B is incorrect. Although the assistant manager said she had been told to park in the back lot, other employees said they received no such instructions. The court concluded that the store did not tell employees where to park.

C is incorrect. A dissenting judge opined that the store had indirect control over the parking lot. However, the majority concluded that the store had no control over the parking lot.

How the court ruled: A. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that the assistant manager was not entitled to benefits for her injuries. Hanik v. Christopher & Banks, No. 2012-SC-000791-WC (Ky. 06/19/14).

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

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]

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