Safety and OSHA News

Was injury from parking-lot fall eligible for workers’ comp benefits?

In this case, a court had to determine whether an employee’s injuries were eligible for workers’ comp because of an exception to the coming-and-going rule. 

Serena Gordon left work one night in February 2013 at Professional Financial Services (PFS) in Kentucky. When she reached her car, she realized she’d left her employer-issued iPad in her office. Gordon went back to her office, got the iPad and returned to her car. While in the parking lot, she tripped over a curb and injured her leg.

PFS denied Gordon’s workers’ comp claim, arguing it didn’t occur on its premises. An administrative law judge heard the case.

The ALJ agreed the injury didn’t happen on the employer’s premises. PFS didn’t own the parking lot nor did it direct Gordon to park there.

However, the ALJ decided to award her disability and medical benefits because she returned to her car with the iPad and intended to continue working at home. Taking the iPad home benefited PFS.

PFS appealed to the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Board, which upheld the ALJ’s ruling. The most recent appeal by PFS was heard by a state court.

The company argued Kentucky doesn’t recognize an exception to the coming-and-going rule when the injured worker’s travel serves the employer’s business interest.

But the state court said the opposite is true. In Kentucky, travel is work-related if it’s for the convenience of the employer and not work-related if it’s for the convenience of the employee.

The ALJ had accepted Gordon’s testimony that she frequently worked from home using the iPad – a device that could only be used for business purposes.

The court agreed with the ALJ’s finding that Gordon’s retrieval of the iPad to take home benefited the employer. The iPad wasn’t for personal use.

(Professional Financial Services v. Serena Gordon, Kentucky Court of Appeals, No. 2017-CA-000679-WC, 6/8/18)

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