The workers’ compensation system in Colorado is what is known as a “no fault” system. This means, with a few exceptions, as long as you are injured at work it does not matter whose fault it is that you were injured you can still obtain workers’ compensation benefits. Your injury can be your fault, your employer’s fault, a coworker’s fault, or the fault of a third party and you can still qualify and receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, whether your injury happened “at work” is open to interpretation.
The standard is whether you suffered your injury in the “course and scope” of your employment while performing an activity that “arises out of” your employment relationship with your employer. The “course and scope” aspect has to do with the location and timing of the injury. The “arises out of” aspect involves the work activity or activities that led to your injury or injuries. These standards are subjective and depend on the specific facts of each claim. An injury may happen at your typical work station during your typical work hours but may not arise out of a work activity. An example of this is a worker that suffers a knee injury while simply walking to the restroom. It is undeniable the knee injury occurred at work, but courts have repeatedly held being injured while simply walking at work is not automatically an injury that arises out of work activities.
What does all this mean if you sustain an injury after a fall in the parking lot at work? As always, it depends on the specific facts of your situation, but Colorado courts have regularly held injuries that happen as a result of a fall in the parking lot at work are compensable work injuries that should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. This includes injuries from falls that happen once you arrive at work but have not yet clocked in, and injuries that happen after you have clocked out for the day and are leaving work. Thus, if you fall in your employer’s parking lot before you have clocked in to begin your work day, or you fall after you have clocked out, you should not assume it is not a work injury. You should do the opposite and immediately report the fall and resulting injury or injuries to your employer as soon as you can because, chances are, you will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
There are multiple factors that make each situation different, but in general, if you are injured after a fall in your employer’s parking lot you should explore pursuing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits because you will most likely have a valid claim to qualify for medical benefits, lost wages, and money to compensate you for any permanent impairment or disfigurement your fall may cause. As always, if this happens to you report the injury, file a claim for benefits, and contact an attorney who practices Colorado workers’ compensation law as soon as possible to protect your interests.