Store employee awarded benefits for wipeout in mall parking lot
Case name: Liguori v. Helzberg Diamonds, 18 FLWCLB 188 (Fla. JCC, Tampa 2011).
Ruling: A Florida judge of compensation claims held that a worker's accident in the parking lot while walking to her car at the end of her shift was compensable.
What it means: In Florida, an accident is compensable when an employer creates an increased risk of injury because of a hazard on the route a worker customarily and necessarily uses to exit from work, and the accident occurred because of the increased hazard.
Summary: A worker at a jewelry store in a mall worked until the store closed. She was not allowed to leave the store until she and two coworkers completed their work. The store preferred that the three employees leave by the same exit to the mall and park in the same area in the mall lot. By the time the worker and her coworkers left work, the mall dimmed the lights in the parking lot. While walking to her car, the worker tripped over a parking stop and fell on her knees. The store denied compensability because it occurred in a parking lot that was owned by the mall and not operated for the exclusive use of the jewelry store employees. The JCC disagreed and awarded benefits.
The JCC found that the accident occurred because of the increased hazard of the dim lighting. If she had been allowed to leave when the mall closed, the lighting would have been at full strength and she likely would not have fallen. Since the store created the risk of injury by extending the claimant's work hours past the time at which full lighting was available, the claimant's injuries were compensable.
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February 6, 2012
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