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What if you get hit by an automobile while you are in a company parking lot

Burdine & Brown Aug. 23, 2023

The general rule under the laws of workers’ compensation is that if the employer was the owner of the parking lot and you are on the way in or out of the parking lot either before work or immediately after work if you have been injured the injury would be considered “in the course of and scope of your employment.”

Odem was hit in his employer’s parking lot by a car driven by another employee. Odem sues Franklin, the driver of the car. Franklin argued that Odem could not sue him because the workers’ compensation law does not allow a worker to sue another worker for damages that arose out of the employment situation. But you say that Franklin was in the parking lot and not inside the employer’s building where the actual work was to be performed.

It just happened that Franklin was late for his shift, and it was discovered that this employer had a clear policy that tardiness was against company policy. You would think that if you are hit by a co-worker (probably speeding negligently) in the employer’s parking lot while driving in his own vehicle not a company vehicle, there would be no legal connection between Franklin’s bad driving and his labor for the company because he had not yet performed labor that day.

I believe the Court of Appeals got it wrong. The Court’s attempt to extend the place of business to the parking lot of the employer is a good attempt to reach coverage for parking lot injuries. But to prevent Odem from bringing suit for damages against a driver who negligently drives his car into another person goes way too far.

The Court of Appeals gets it right when and if Franklin negligently drives a forklift into Odem the moment Odem steps inside the company premises. That is not what happened here. Odem should be allowed to recover from Franklin’s auto insurance policy and not be banned solely because Franklin was in the parking lot of the employer before work began.