HARRISBURG – A Pennsylvania court has upheld a Workers' Compensation Appeal Board's award to a former Piedmont Airlines employee who was injured in a company parking lot.
Commonwealth Court Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini upheld on Aug. 20 a lower court ruling that granted Craig Watson's claim, after he allegedly injured his right hand in a fall.
In his decision, Pellegrini wrote, in part, "Because Claimant was injured on Employer’s premises, his presence was required due to the nature of his employment and the condition of the premises caused the injury, we affirm the Board’s decision."
Lawyers for Piedmont argued that workers are not required to park in the parking lots, so the lots "should not be considered Employer’s premises."
Judge Dan Pelligrini
In July, the Workers' Compensation judge ruled that Watson should be paid weekly benefits owed from Feb. 16-May 31, 2016, when benefits were suspended because he returned to work.
Watson claimed that in February 2016, he slipped and fell on a pile of snow, "landing on his right hand at an awkward angle and breaking his right finger." Watson, who worked as a training supervisor for Piedmont Airlines, had been scheduled for work that morning at Philadelphia International Airport.
According to the lawsuit, after being dropped off in an employee parking lot by his wife, he allegedly suffered the injury as he walked through the parking lot toward an employee shuttle bus shelter. Piedmont owned, operated and maintained two parking lots named in the case.
The court rules that Watson's "presence in the parking lot to get the employee shuttle bus was so connected with his employment relationship that it was required by the nature of his employment."
Watson reported the injury to Piedmont's human resources department, where he was referred to an orthopedic physician. According to court paperwork, Watson's right hand was placed in a cast and he returned to work the following week, "but the swelling in his hand made his cast uncomfortable."
He then notified his employer about the pain and taken off the schedule. However, Watson stopped being paid.
According to court documents, Watson filed a worker's compensation claim in March 2016. But that claim was denied by Piedmont, which stated that "the injury occurred on Employer's premises or that Claimant was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the injury." With no pay, Watson returned to work.