WSIB Issue “A parking lot is not just a parking lot”: Scooter accident and employee’s lawsuit barred!

An employee’s motor scooter accident in her employer’s parking lot was a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board issue, so the employee was not entitled to sue the employer in the court, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal has held.

The employee’s lawyer argued, based on the Ontario Court of Appeal’s recent Blue Mountain decision, that “sometimes a parking lot is just a parking lot” and not a workplace, just as the Court of Appeal had said that “sometimes a swimming pool is just a swimming pool” so that a guest’s death in a swimming pool need not be reported to the Ministry of Labour under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The WSIAT, however, decided that the Blue Mountain decision had no application to the scooter case.  Rather, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board policy was clear that workers are “in the course of employment” upon entering the employer’s premises – including a parking lot owned or leased by the employer – using an accepted entrance, on their way to work.

Here, where the employee’s scooter accident occurred in the employer’s parking lot on the way to work, the parking lot was effectively a workplace, and her injuries “arose out of and in the course of her employment”. Therefore, she was prohibited from commencing a lawsuit in the court for damages due to her injuries.