Is a Fall in a Parking Lot a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The purpose of the Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Act is to provide benefits to employees who are injured by accidents that arise out of and in the course of their employment. However, questions often arise about whether an accident is covered before or after a worker leaves the building, such as a fall in a parking lot. Too often, employees are denied workers’ compensation benefits after a parking lot fall, but the experienced Wisconsin workers’ compensation attorneys at Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf in Milwaukee are here to help. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a consultation of your case now.
What is the “Coming and Going” Rule?
In order for an accident to be covered by workers’ compensation in Wisconsin, it must occur in the course of employment. This means that the accident must occur at a time, place, and under the right circumstances to be considered in the course of employment. For example, a worker who is injured after they have clocked in and are performing their normal work duties would be considered an accident that happens in the course of employment.
The “coming and going rule” further defines when an accident is considered in the course of employment. Under this rule, employees are generally not covered under workers’ compensation if they are injured coming or going from their place of employment so long as that location is fixed. This is because the commute is not considered on the clock for the purposes of employment since the employee is not at their place of work or performing work duties. However, there are exceptions to the general “coming and going” rule, which can include accidents that happen in a parking lot.
Factors for Consideration
Not all falls in a parking lot are covered under workers’ compensation in Wisconsin. Multiple factors must be considered when determining whether injuries sustained in a parking lot fall are covered, including the location, timing, and circumstances of the accident.
Location of the Fall
The location of a parking lot fall is often critical to a workers’ compensation case. Generally speaking, injuries incurred in a parking lot fall are covered by workers’ compensation if they occur in an employer-designated parking lot. Specifically, the fall must occur on the employment premises, which includes parking lots that are owned or controlled by the employer. If a worker chooses to park in a lot that is not controlled by their employer such as a public parking lot, a fall may not be covered under workers’ compensation.
Timing of the Fall
The timing of the fall may also play a part in whether an accident in a parking lot is covered by workers’ compensation. If the fall occurs when the employee is going to or coming from their place of employment, the accident is likely covered by workers’ compensation. However, if the accident happens substantially after work hours or while conducting non-work duties it may not be covered by workers’ compensation in Wisconsin.
Circumstances of the Fall
Finally, the circumstances surrounding the fall may also impact whether the injuries are covered by workers’ compensation benefits. A worker must be coming or going from the parking lot in “the ordinary and usual way” in order for a fall to be covered by workers’ compensation. Even a small deviation from what is considered the ordinary and usual way that an employee traverses through an employer-controlled parking lot may subject the claim to scrutiny for workers’ compensation benefits.
One notable Wisconsin Supreme Court case found that a deviation as small as walking past the driver’s door to show a coworker something in the vehicle’s trunk when a fall occurred was enough to bar the accident from receiving workers’ compensation coverage. This is why it is critical that injured workers seek counsel from an experienced attorney when pursuing workers’ compensation benefits after a parking lot fall.
Injuries Caused by a Parking Lot Fall
While many people do not consider a slip and fall or trip and fall in a parking lot to be a serious accident, in reality, they can cause serious harm to an injured employee. This is particularly true if the accident results in an injury to the head, neck, or spine, or if an affected worker is older or otherwise more vulnerable to injury. Some of the most common injuries reported after a fall in a parking lot include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Facial trauma
- Neck injuries
- Back and spine injuries
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Sprain, strains, and soft tissue damage
These injuries have the potential to require significant medical treatment and can seriously impair a person’s ability to work. When this type of accident happens in an employer-controlled parking lot in the normal course of work, it is imperative that an employee be fully covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
An injured worker is entitled to many different types of benefits under Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation laws, including coverage for medical bills, wage loss, and additional benefits. After a covered parking lot fall, injured employees may be entitled to the following:
Injured workers are entitled to full coverage of all medical expenses related to their accident, including ambulance transportation, medical treatment, medications, hospitalization, and rehabilitation. Mileage for transportation to and from medical treatment after the accident is also covered, and in Wisconsin, workers have the right to choose their own healthcare provider.
Temporary total disability and temporary partial disability provide wage benefits during recovery and after an employee’s return to work. Temporary total disability is two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage and is paid until the worker returns to work, and temporary partial disability is two-thirds the difference between pre-and post-accident wages if the employee cannot earn as much as before.
If the accident results in some level of permanent disability, an employee is entitled to permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits. Permanent partial disability pays for any permanent disability after maximum medical improvement is reached, and permanent total disability provides benefits if the injuries are so severe that the employee cannot return to any meaningful work.
Call or Contact Us Now
If you or someone that you know has been hurt in a parking lot fall in the Milwaukee area, call the Milwaukee workers’ compensation attorneys at Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf today to learn whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.