Visitor Question

Not covered for fractured kneecap in parking garage at work?

Submitted By: Russell (Tacoma, WA)

I work in a medical clinic with a 24-hour urgent care unit.

On Friday evening, I was heading through my employers’ parking garage to the outdoor smoking area to tell the night lead I was going to be clocking out for lunch.

I slipped and fell on some accumulated rainwater on my way to the exit, and landed on my kneecap, fracturing it. The upstairs Urgent Care treated me and determined it to be an on-the-job injury, since it happened on company property, and suggested I pursue worker’s compensation to cover my time off to recover.

Today I called to file a claim with HR and pursue the necessary channels to ensure my leave was taken care of.

I was informed that it was my employer’s policy that they do not cover parking garage injuries, and that any claim I submitted for workers’ compensation would be denied based on this fact.

I’ve been advised by coworkers that, regardless of their policies, they should not be able to legally do this since the parking garage is a part of their building and is solely for their staff and patients, not open to the public.

I have, in the meantime, filed a claim for short-term disability through my employer and am waiting to have it reviewed.

My question is, are my coworkers correct about this being illegal and, if so, what should I do next?

I don’t want to create any trouble for my employer, but I also don’t want to be left unable to pay the rent in the 5-6 weeks it’s going to take to be work-ready again. What can I do? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Russell,

Unfortunately, most workers’ compensation insurance companies do not cover workers’ injuries either during the time they are commuting to and from work, and during lunch breaks. The exception is when a worker is engaging in work duties sanctioned by the employer.

Moreover, injuries occurring in parking garages are not covered by workers’ comp unless the parking garage is owned or maintained by the employer. In your case, your injuries occurred during your lunch break, and in a parking garaged owned by your employer.

You certainly have the right to attempt to convince the HR department and workers’ comp insurance company that your injuries occurred while in the performance of your work duties. But doing so may prove to be futile.

You may though, have a claim against any other owners or companies which maintain the parking garage. Inasmuch as they are not your employer, you may have a viable personal injury claim against them.

Because of the seriousness of your injury and the probable difficulty in proving liability, you would be advised to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney. Bring your medical records and any other documentation with you when you meet with the attorney. He or she will be able to tell you who, if anyone, is liable for your injury.

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

Best of luck,

Published: November 24, 2014

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