Coworker shielded from liability for accident in employee parking garage
Case name: Kobak, et al. v. Sobhani, et al., No. 94764 (Ohio Ct. App. 01/06/11).
Ruling: The Ohio Court of Appeals held that a worker was not entitled to recover from a coworker for injuries that occurred when she was struck by the coworker's car because the injuries occurred in the course of and arising out of employment.
What it means: In Ohio, a worker injured while commuting to and from work may be entitled to workers' compensation if the injury occurs within the "zone of employment."
A hospital worker arrived at the employee parking garage to begin her work shift. The garage was not open to the public, was operated exclusively for employees, and was free for hospital employees. While she was walking to the building, the worker was struck and injured by a coworker exiting the garage after ending his work shift. The worker received workers' compensation for her injuries. The worker sued the coworker. The Ohio Court of Appeals held that the coworker was immune from suit because the accident occurred in the course of and arising out of his employment.
The court determined that the coworker was "in the service of" the hospital at the time of the accident, even though he had "clocked out." The accident occurred in the employee parking garage, before the coworker reached the street or public area.
The court found that there was a causal connection between the injury and the worker and coworker's employment. The accident took place in the hospital-controlled, employee-only parking garage in close proximity to the hospital. The hospital controlled the scene of the accident because it provided the facility to employees at no charge, required employees to park there, and did not allow the public to have access. The hospital received a benefit from employees' use of the garage since it kept employees from parking in other areas available for visitors.
The court said that although the worker had not punched in to work when the accident occurred, she was entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The court noted that the inverse would also be true.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
February 10, 2011
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