Motel Worker’s Injuries On Icy Parking Lot Before Her Shift Warrant Benefits

Case name: Grissom v Midwest Lodging Super 8 Motel, 12 ILWCLB 5 (Ill.Ind.Comm.2004).

Ruling: The Commission awarded benefits to motel housekeeper who slipped and fell on ice her employer’s parking lot while walking to work.

What it means: An employer’s icy parking lot exposes an employee to an increased risk of injury, where the employee must traverse the icy lot in order to get to work, unlike guests who may exit their vehicles under a covered overhang in front of the motel entrance.

Summary: The claimant, a motel housekeeper, rode a bus to work. On the day of the accident, snow was on the ground. When she reached her employer’s parking lot, she saw that the snow had been scraped away, but there remained a layer of ice on the lot. The claimant was required to cross the icy parking lot, which she described as very slick and difficult. Just before reaching the clear sidewalk in front of the motel, the claimant slipped and fell. The Commission awarded benefits. Relying onBommarito v. Industrial Commission, the Commission found that the claimant was exposed to an increased risk of injury.

Evidence indicated that the employer did not share its parking lot with any other businesses and had exclusive control over the lot. Also, when the claimant arrived at work in the mornings, only the main entrance door was open. In front of the main entrance, there was an overhang with a driveway that was clear of ice and snow. A sidewalk traversed most of the front of the motel.

The Commission went on to distinguish the Appellate Court of Illinois’ decision in Wal-Mart v. Industrial Commission, cited by the defendant. Unlike the facts in the Wal-Mart, the instant claimant was close to the only available entrance to work, she was on her way to work, she was not leaving work to go to a friend’s car, and the accident was undisputed.