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Your workers' compensation insurance may start in parking lot

The Superior Court in another state recently ruled that a company's workers' compensation coverage begins the moment an employee arrives on company property to begin the work day.

Since the idea of workers' comp carrying exclusive remedy provisions was recently questioned here in Michigan, we thought it was worth uncovering how other states interpret this law that affects every single Michigan employee.

(The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that two Michigan employees who were injured at work and sought workers' compensation were not restricted in their lawsuits and their request for damages. In addition to workers' comp, the employees could also file a claim against the doctor who performed their examinations because they had enough proof that the doctor was biased.)

Here's what happened: a worker drove to work one morning and parked her car in the employee parking lot. She was early that morning, so she turned off the engine, removed her seatbelt and was passing the time listening to the radio and enjoying her coffee before going into the building.

Unfortunately, another co-worker pulled into the lot and stuck her car. As a result, she suffered injuries to her toes, knees, back, shoulders and neck. She lost consciousness and had to be treated at a local hospital.

The injured employee sued her co-worker for damages and medical bills.

But, an Appellate Court decided that the co-worker was not liable, and rather the company's workers' compensation insurance was responsible for her damages because the accident occurred when she arrived at the workplace, on company property, to begin her work day.

Because she and the co-worker parked in the employee parking lot "in order to proceed into work," the court found that the employer was in control of and responsible for the area where the accident occurred. Under the premises rule, a worker's accident must happen during the course of employment. The court ruled that there was a connection between the parking lot and the course of their employment because the employees were preparing to begin their work day.

This decision relieved the liability from the individual and maintained a good working relationship between co-workers.

To learn more about workplace injuries similar to the one described in this article, please visit our Michigan workers' compensation web page.

Source: riskandinsurance.com, "Coworker saved from liability for parking lot incident," Aug. 13, 2012

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Bredell & Bredell
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