In a recent case, Western Springs Police Department vs. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission et. al, (2023 IL App (1st) 211574WC), the Illinois Appellate Court considered whether an employee’s injury that occurred in a parking lot off the employer’s premises while traveling to work arose out of and in the course of her employment, making it compensable under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.
The case involved a crossing guard who slipped on ice and snow in a parking space provided by her employer, the Village of Western Springs. Although the parking space was also available for use by the general public, the Village granted its employees the privilege of parking in the space for longer than the 4-hour limitation applicable to the public.
The Village argued that the employee’s injury did not occur on its premises and, therefore, did not arise out of and in the course of her employment. The Commission, however, found that the claimant fell in an employer-provided parking space, and her injury was compensable under the Act.
On review, the Appellate Court held that when an employee slips and falls on ice or snow in an employer-provided parking area, the resulting injury arises out of and in the course of her employment. The Court noted that the Village exercised control and dominion over the parking space, and the employee was granted the privilege of parking there in excess of the time limit applicable to the general public. Therefore, the Commission’s finding that the employee’s injury occurred in an employer-provided parking space was not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
This case highlights the importance of determining whether an injury arose out of and in the course of employment for purposes of workers’ compensation. To be compensable under the Act, the injury must have originated in some risk connected with or incidental to the employment, and the employee must have been injured while performing acts related to their duties or at a place where the employee might reasonably be expected to perform such acts.
The Court clarified that a municipal employer’s premises for workers’ compensation purposes include only places where the injured employee reasonably might be in the performance of their duties and any place incident thereto, including employer-provided parking areas. This definition does not include all property owned by the municipality, regardless of its connection to the employee’s duties.
The Court’s decision has significant implications for employees who are injured while traveling to work or while in a parking lot off their employer’s premises. It reinforces the principle that injuries sustained while traveling to work are generally not compensable under the Act, but an exception applies when an employee is injured in a parking lot provided by and under the control of the employer.
Overall, this case emphasizes the importance of understanding the nuances of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the criteria for determining whether an injury is compensable. It also highlights the role of the Commission in making factual determinations in workers’ compensation cases and the deference given to its findings on review.