Florida employees who are injured in the course and scope of employment are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits to cover their medical bills and a portion of their lost wages while they recover. However, these benefits are not absolute and there are a host of exceptions (which is why you often need a good work injury attorney to help file your claim and make sure your benefits are timely and fully paid).
One of the notable exceptions, as outlined in F.S. 440.092(2), is the Coming and Going Rule. This rule stipulates that an injury that occurs while the worker is coming from or going to work is not an injury that “arises out of employment or in the course of employment.” The statute indicates this is true even when employer provides the transportation, so long as such transportation was available for the exclusive personal use by employee – unless the employee was engaged in some special mission or error for the employer. This doesn’t apply to law enforcement officers traveling in marked cruisers, unless they have made some distinct deviation for a non-essential, personal errand (unless the collective bargaining agreement allows for such deviations, in which case such an injury would be covered by workers’ compensation).
This coming-and-going rule is pretty well established across jurisdictions. Still, these matters continue to arise in courts across the country. Recently, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal weighed one such case, Quinn v. CP Franchising, in which a worker was injured in a parking lot fall at work.
According to court records, plaintiff tripped and fell in a parking lot that was next to her work. Photos later reviewed by the Judge of Compensation Claims showed that there was a separation between the asphalt of the parking lot and the concrete curb. These images reveal show this groove is present throughout the lot wherever the asphalt and concrete meet.
Based on this observation, the judge concluded there was no special danger that led to the accident. The question then was whether employer had a certain degree of control of the area in order for the parking lot to be considered part of the employer’s premises or whether it was an area was used by the employer for work-related purposes. Evidence revealed the parking lot wasn’t leased by the employer. The employer never assigned workers their own parking spaces in the lot. However, pursuant to its lease agreement, the company did receive three dozen unassigned parking spaces that workers could use, but they were not granted exclusive access. The company paid a fee to the landlord for maintenance of the common areas of the property and plaintiff didn’t present any evidence the employer had any control over the parking lot maintenance or even how the maintenance fee was applied.
Because the parking lot was open to the public and was not used by employees in a really different way and the employer didn’t use the lot for special purpose or have control over it, there was no exception to the general coming-and-going rule, and thus the worker was not entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits for her injuries.
Although this was a disappointing outcome for this plaintiff, it’s important to consult with an experienced work injury lawyer in Miami if you have suffered a work-related injury because the facts of each case vary and could result in a different result.
If you have been injured in a work accident in Miami, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Quinn v. CP Franchising, Oct. 13, 2016, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal
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