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Understanding the Parking Lot Exception Under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act

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Both employers and employees have a difficult time understanding the employment status of workers hired through temporary staffing agencies. The recent workers' compensation case Suter v. Ill. Workers Compensation Comm'n illustrates the unique status of temporary workers who are injured on the job.

premises liabilitySuter v. Ill. Workers Compensation Comm'n

Suter concerns the injuries sustained by Mary Suter, a temporary worker who was employed by Manpower, a temporary staffing agency. Suter was assigned to the Illinois Department of Insurance where she was injured one morning while arriving to work. Suter sustained injuries when she slipped on ice and fell on her back after attempting to close her car door, which was parked in a specific parking spot assigned to her by the building manager. Soon thereafter Sutter filed a claim with the Workers' Compensation Commission under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

The Commission, along with the lower circuit court found that Suter's accident did not arise out of her course of employment as required under the Act. Sutter was assigned the specific parking spot by the manager of the building where the Illinois Department of Insurance's offices were located. Both the commission and the court found that if the spot had been directly assigned to her by either Manpower or the Illinois Department of Insurance, the injury would have been considered as arising out of the course of employment, and thus covered by the Act. Since the spot was assigned by the building manager, who was not her employer, Suter's claim was denied.

 Suter appealed her case, and the outcome of this appeal indicates that small business employers should be aware of the parking lot exception found within the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act. Under the parking lot exception, Illinois courts have permitted recovery for injuries sustained in a business' parking lot. The exception applies if an injury is caused by a hazardous condition present in a parking lot that is both provided by the employer and under the control of the employer. The appellate court found that Suter's use of the parking spot was directly derived from her status as an employee of the Illinois Department of Insurance. They also found that because Suter was injured while on her way to work, she had a right to the workers' compensation benefits. As a result, the appellate court reversed the findings of the commission and circuit court, and remanded the case for further proceedings. The main thing that small business owners should take away from Suter is that a temporary worker injured in a work's parking lot can be covered under the Workers' Compensation Act. To get advice and more information about workplace injury liability you should contact the personal injury attorneys here at the  Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C. in Joliet, Illinois.
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