Walker Brothers v. IWCC, 2019 IL App (1st) 181519WC

NOVEMBER 2019

In this case, Petitioner sought worker’s compensation benefits for an injury sustained when he slipped and fell in a parking lot on the way to work. In this case, employees of Respondent, Walker Brothers, were allowed to park in the adjacent Ace Hardware lot. In February, Petitioner, an employee of Walker Brothers parked in the Ace Hardware lot and slipped on ice in the parking lot while making his way to work at the restaurant. He suffered a shoulder injury which ultimately necessitated surgery. He filed a worker’s compensation claim which his employer denied claiming it did not arise out of and in the course of his employment. Respondent, Walker Brothers, claimed that the injured occurred off of its premises and not within the scope of his work duties, therefore it did not meet the arising out of requirement. The arbitrator agreed and denied the claim finding that Petitioner failed to prove his injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. The IWCC reversed the arbitrator’s decisions and awarded Petitioner TTD, PPD, and medical benefits. The Respondent appealed. A trial court upheld the Commission’s decision and Respondent appealed again.

 

In it’s decision, the appeals court addressed the issue of the “parking lot exception” which was previously laid out by the Illinois Supreme Court. Generally, when an employee slips and falls off of an employer’s premises while traveling to or from work, the resulting injuries are not held to arise out of or in the course of employment. However, under the “parking lot exception” the court looks to several situations to determine whether the exception applies: (1) whether the parking lot is owned by the employer; (2) whether the parking lot is controlled by the employer; (3) whether the parking lot is part of a route required by an employee to take to get to work by the employer. If any of these apply to the facts of a claim, an employer may be liable for worker’s compensation benefits for a worker who injures his or herself in the parking lot.

 

In the Walker Brother’s case, Petitioner alleged that because Walker Brothers had a long standing agreement with the owner of Ace that allowed Walker Brothers employees to park in various spaces of the hardware lot, that this constituted part of a route required by employees to take to get to work by the employer. However, the appeals court found that the same spaces were also open to the public, not exclusively to Walker Brother’s employees, that there were no signs indicating the spaces were reserved for employees, and Walker Brothers did not own or control the lot. Furthermore, Ace Hardware paid for all lot maintenance. Therefore, the facts indicate that none of the “parking lot exception” scenarios applied to this case, therefore Petitioner was not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.

 

Key Take Aways:

 

If an employer owns or controls a parking lot and an employee is injured in the lot, the employer may be liable for worker’s compensation benefits for injuries sustained in the parking lot. In addition, an employer may be liable if the lot if part of a route an employee must take to get to work. This situation is largely dependent of the facts of the case. In situations where the lot is available to the public, not just employees, and the employer does not exercise control over the lot, the employer may not be liable for injuries sustained in the lot.

 

 

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