Liability for fall in stairwell in my company's parking garage?

by Joanna
(Phoenix, AZ)

I fell while going down the stairs of the parking garage that all County employees use. Half of the garage is only for County employees and the other half is visitor parking. You need a County Employee pass to go in and out of the parking garage.

I fell down due to poor lighting of the stairwell and was told by my Supervisor that I had to go to the doctor because it was on company property.

I was sent home with about 4 days off. I went to my own doctor and was told I needed 2-3 weeks off. I spoke with HR who said there was no problems and explained the Worker's Comp process. On the 5th day off I got a call from my Supervisor telling me that worker's comp won't be paying for this because I was not on the clock yet.

Is this right? What can I do about getting my medical bills paid? Shouldn't my employer be responsible because of where I was parking and on my way to work? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Liability for fall in stairwell in my company's parking garage?":

Joanna (Phoenix, AZ):

You have a legitimate argument for workers compensation benefits. Before pursuing further action check your Arizona Workers Employee Manual to determine if there is an exception for workers' comp benefits for injuries occurring in the county designated parking lot. Often an employee manual will be controlling in matters of parking lot injuries.

In most cases, when an employer designates a specific parking area for its workers, and a worker is injured while traversing the parking lot directly into work or back to the worker's vehicle after work, the employer will be liable. When that employer has workers' compensation coverage, the worker will be entitled to benefits.

Another supporting argument concerns the issue of "control." When an employer exercises "control" over a worker's designated parking area the employer will usually be held liable for injuries to workers while traversing the parking lot.

To prove the county has control over the parking lot check to see if there are county employees who clean, paint, or otherwise maintain the parking lot. This action is a viable way to prove control.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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