Injuries Sustained in Nearby Parking Lot Were Compensable
Where an Ohio data entry worker had clocked out for lunch, exited the building, and fell in a nearby parking lot, breaking her arm, her claim for workers’ compensation benefits was not barred by the going and coming rule, held an Ohio appellate court in White v. Bureau of Workers’ Comp., 2018-Ohio-4309, 2018 Ohio App. LEXIS 4632 (Oct. 24, 2018). Her injuries were compensable under Ohio’s zone-of-employment exception to the coming-and-going rule [see Ohio Rev. Code § 4123.01(C); Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 13.01, 13.04].
Going and Coming Rule Has Exceptions
The employer contended that the employee, who worked as a data entry person and who, therefore, had relatively fixed hours and work location, should not be covered after she clocked out, that her claim was barred by the normal going and coming rule. The Administrator of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation denied the claim and a district hearing officer agreed with the Administrator. The employee appealed, but a staff hearing officer affirmed the district hearing officer’s decision, and the Industrial Commission refused her appeal. The employee had better luck before the the common pleas court, which prompted the further appeal by the employer and the Administrator.
Parking Lot Under Repair
Evidence indicated that the parking lot was under repair at the time of the employee’s fall, that there were two feet of completed pavement in the parking lot followed by a section of incomplete pavement. The employee testified that she slipped on the lip of the completed pavement and fell face first onto the incomplete section, breaking her arm.
Appellate Court Agrees Going and Coming Rule Can Apply to Lunch Breaks
The appellate court acknowledged that the going and coming rule generally applied to travel and off-premises activities during a lunch break. Here, however, the employee was favored with an exception to the rule: the zone-of-employment rule. Under that exception, the employer’s “place of employment” included the areas thereabout. Specifically, the means of ingress and egress were included in the employer’s premises, if under control of the employer. Quoting from the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in Marlow v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 10 Ohio St.2d 18, 22, 225 N.E.2d 241 (1967), the appellate court held there were no issues of fact; the employee’s injuries were compensable as a matter of law. The employee was still within the zone-of-employment when she fell.
Because she was injured in the company parking lot within a short time of clocking out for her lunch break, her injuries were compensable under the zone-of-employment exception to the coming-and-going rule in R.C. 4123.01(C) since she was within the zone of employment at the time of the injury and the injury was proximately caused by a natural hazard of the zone. The employer owned the parking lot and had the power to direct the work performed there. The decision of the common pleas court would stand.