South Carolina High Court Adopts Larson’s “Divided Premises” Rule

Adopting Dr. Arthur Larson’s “divided premises” rule [Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law § 13.01[4][b]], in which an employee remains within the course and scope of the employment while traveling along or across a public road between two portions of the employer’s premises, the Supreme Court of South Carolina recently held that a university professor, who sustained injuries when she was struck by a vehicle on a public street that separated the school’s library—where she had been working—from one of the university’s parking lots—where she had parked her car—should have been awarded workers’ compensation benefits [see Davaut v. University of S.C., 2016 S.C. LEXIS 301 (Oct. 26, 2016)]. That the professor was not physically on university property when she was struck, did not control.

Going and Coming Rule Did Not Apply

The Court stressed that application of the divided premises rule was especially warranted where, as in this case, the employer created the need for the employee to cross the public street. The Court rejected the employer’s argument that the injuries should not be compensable since it did not require the professor to utilize the parking lot. That lack of a requirement was irrelevant, said the Court; what was important was that it allowed her to use the lot and once she did so, the necessity of crossing the street arose. The Court also rejected the suggestion that the case was controlled by the “going and coming” rule.

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