NC Court of Appeals on Workers' Compensation for Parking Lot Injuries

The latest workers' compensation opinion from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Cardwell v. Jenkins Cleaner, addresses the "going and coming" rule. "As a general rule, injuries occurring while an employee travels to and from work do not arise in the course of employment and thus are not compensable." This "going and coming" rule has further evolved such that "an employee injured while going to and from work on the employer's premises is generally covered by the Act." Thus, injuries in a parking lot not owned by the employer are usually not covered by workers' compensation.

In this case, the plaintiff was injured when she slipped on some black ice three feet away from the back door to her office. The majority affirmed the Industrial Commission's denial of benefits on the grounds that the plaintiff was hurt while she was still in the parking lot and had not yet reached the door. Chief Judge Martin dissented. He concluded that because plaintiff in fact was injured on the curb, which is separate from the parking lot and right outside the employer's office door, she was within a "reasonable margin" of the employer-provided access to the building, and thus suffered a compensable injury.