Case name: Cardwell v. Jenkins Cleaner, Inc., No. COA10-136 (N.C. Ct. App. 08/03/10).
Ruling: The North Carolina Court of Appeals held that a worker who was injured when she fell in the common-area parking lot of her workplace was not entitled to compensation because she was not on the employer's premises.
What it means:
An employee injured on the employer's premises is generally covered by the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act. However, an employee injured in the parking lot cannot receive compensation if the employer does not control or maintain the lot.
Summary: A worker for a cleaner business arrived at work and parked her vehicle in the parking lot next to her employer's location. The employer did not control the parking lot, which was shared by a number of businesses. The worker walked across the parking lot toward the back door of the business, and she slipped on black ice approximately 3 feet from the door. She fell and broke her wrist. The worker argued that her injury was compensable because it occurred on the business's premises. The North Carolina Court of Appeals found that the injury was not compensable.
The worker argued that when she fell, she was unlocking the back door of the business, which was a requirement of her job. The court stated that at the time she fell, the worker had "not even reached the back door" so a finding that unlocking the door was a part of her job duties was irrelevant.
The worker also asserted that the cement she fell on was not a part of the parking lot, but the court noted that she did not argue that the cement area was a part of the business's premises.
A dissenting judge mentioned that the worker fell in front of the employee-only entrance door of the business and that the area was "in such proximity and relation" to the business's premises that it was "in practical effect a part of employer's premises."
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October 28, 2010
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