Generally, for most employees, the commute to and from work is not a time in which the employee is covered under the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system (this is known as the “going and coming rule”). As with many of the principles we touch on with this blog, there are exceptions. (One critical one, which we are not discussing in this blog post, is the “traveling employee,” which can be seen in this blog post). Here we are going to look at a recent case on what happens with an injury in the employer’s parking lot.
In Quality Bicycle Products, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Shaw), the employee was running out of the building to his car due to a family emergency. On his way to his car, in the employer’s parking lot, the employee felt a pop in his knee (later diagnosed as a fractured patella). A Claim Petition was filed and granted by a Workers Compensation Judge (WCJ). This was affirmed on appeal by the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB). [Note that other aspects of the decision were reversed by the WCAB, but are not relevant to our discussion].
Upon appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, the decision of the WCJ was reversed. The Court felt that the WCJ, and the WCAB, erred in finding that the injury took place in the scope and course of employment.