Many injuries happen in parking lots when an employee is starting or ending the work day. As we mentioned in a previous post, the workers compensation law in Georgia covers injuries that arise out of and in the course of employment.
When an injuries happens at the beginning or end of the work day, there is usually a question of whether the injured worker is still “in the course of employment”. Another way of stating this question is whether the injured worker is still on the job at the time of the injury.
One way of looking at when the injured worker is on the job would be to ask whether the injured employee has “clocked in” or “clocked out” yet. Luckily, Georgia Workers Compensation law does not focus exclusively on that. Georgia law often protects injured workers even before they actually “clock in” to work and after they “clock out”.
Employees remain in the course of their employment during a reasonable time of ingress (coming into work) or egress (leaving from work). Because of this, employees who clock out of work and then slip on a wet floor on the way out of work would likely still receive workers compensation benefits.
How far does reasonable ingress and egress extend?
While employees are covered by workers compensation outside of the actual time they are clocked into work, that coverage is not unlimited. Generally, the injured employee must still be on the employment premises at the time of the injury.
When the employer owns the whole building and the injury occurs in the building, the injury is generally covered. Things get a little more complicated sometimes.
One example is when the injured employee works in a building where the employer leases office space and is injured on the way out of the building. The employer’s control of the location where the employee is injured will be a critical factor in this type of situation. The availability of other exits from the building will be important as well.
Injured employees are often considered to be engaged in reasonable ingress or egress from work when they are injured coming from or going to their car in a parking lot. The big question that comes up with parking lot injuries is whether the employer owns or maintains the parking lot.
If the employer owns the parking lot or has responsibility for maintaining it, an injury in the parking lot should be covered under Georgia’s workers compensation law. If the injured worker parks in a lot which is not owned or maintained by the employer, then the injury is generally not covered.
Employees can still be in the course of employment even if they are not at the job site. Some employees are considered to be “in the course of employment” around the clock because they are continuously employed.
This category includes traveling employees and on call employees, among others. These employees generally enjoy much broader workers compensation coverage for injuries than other employees because they are potentially working 24 hours a day.
What if my claim is denied?
The law regarding “in the course of employment” is quite fact specific. Most injured workers become aware of this issue when they receive a Form WC-3 denying their claim because it did not “arise out of or in the course of employment”.
If your claim is denied by your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company, you should get a free consultation with an attorney who specializes in workers compensation claims. This will help you determine what to expect and how you should pursue your case.