A woman going to work narrowly escaped serious injury after a huge oak tree uprooted and fell on her car as she parked her car at her work. ABC Action News reports that the woman had to crawl out through the passenger side of her vehicle and was later taken to a local hospital for observation. Apparently, the Homeowner’s Association responsible for the tree was told about the dangerous tree for several years but no action was taken. The tree uprooted an entire slab of cement and curbs, the inside rotten.
As a personal injury attorney, this scenario is seen a lot. Not a tree falling on your car in the parking lot before going to work, but injuries occurring while someone is going to work but not yet at work. The question becomes whether or not the person is entitled to Florida workers’ compensation benefits.
Under Florida law, there is a “going and coming” law that pertains to injuries a person has while going to work or leaving from work. The law states:
GOING OR COMING.—An injury suffered while going to or coming from work is not an injury arising out of and in the course of employment whether or not the employer provided transportation if such means of transportation was available for the exclusive personal use by the employee, unless the employee was engaged in a special errand or mission for the employer.
Thus, if there is a car accident while going to work, there may not be workers’ compensation benefits available. However, there are exceptions to the “going and coming” rule which I discussed in a prior blog article. Arguably, the exception would apply to this woman.
In the case of Ryan v. Boehm, Brown, Rigdon, Seacrest & Fischer, a person parked in the employer-provided parking lot and was injured on her way to work (before she clocked in for work). The court determined that this injury was compensable and the worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even those she was going to work and had not started. The Court held that a public sidewalk or street between two parts of the business premises is considered a part of the premises for workers’ compensation purposes and therefore, the injury, having occurred on the premises of the employer, was deemed to be compensable. The driveway where this woman parked should be considered part of the premises, making her claim compensable under Florida workers’ compensation law.
In addition to be compensable for workers’ compensation benefits, arguably this woman has a third-party negligence claim against the homeowners association that failed to remove the tree after being advised of its dangerous condition. Should she be able to prove that, she would be entitled to damages that she is not entitled to under Florida workers’ compensation law.
As you can see, it is difficult to understand your rights and responsibilities after a tree falls on your car or if you are injured going to work. It is important that you talk with an attorney who understands the complexities of Florida’s workers’ compensation law and the impact exceptions could have on your case.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.