Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cass County; the Hon. Robert
L. Welch, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE LINDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Petitioner, Oscar Mayer Foods Corporation, appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of Cass County confirming an award of workers' compensation benefits by the Industrial Commission to respondent, Ella Wells. Petitioner contends that respondent's accident when she was struck by an automobile did not arise out of her employment and so was not compensable under the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.). We affirm.
Respondent was employed by petitioner. She was one of approximately 100 employees who left work at 3:30 p.m., and it took at least 25 minutes for all of them to leave. Petitioner maintained both a parking lot for its employees and an entrance road separating petitioner's plant from the parking lot. The road gave employees access to the parking lot and was also used by trucks making deliveries to the plant. On July 19, 1982, respondent was struck at about 3:45 p.m. by an automobile driven by a co-employee while crossing the road between the plant and the parking lot.
Respondent sought workers' compensation benefits before the Industrial Commission. The arbitrator found that respondent was entitled to benefits because she "sustained accidental injuries which arose out of and in the course of the employment by" petitioner. On review, the Industrial Commission agreed that respondent's injuries arose out of and in the course of her employment, finding, inter alia:
"1. [Respondent], who was a 57 year old meat processing factory worker sustained a fractured pubic ramus on the right side when on July 19, 1982 she was struck by an automobile, being operated by a co-employee, while she was crossing the main entrance road separating [petitioner's] plant and the employee parking lot.
2. The Arbitrator saw the [respondent], heard all the testimony, considered all the evidence and made findings (attached) which are supported by evidence in the record and which the Commission hereby adopts.
3. The Commission notes that the specific findings of the Arbitrator show that [respondent] was injured while leaving [petitioner's] plant by the customary and permitted route, within a reasonable time after her work shift and the injury occurred on a road maintained by [petitioner] giving access for employees to parking lots also maintained by [petitioner]. See Chemlik [sic] v. Vana, 31 Ill.2d 272, 201 N.E.2d 434, (1980) [sic]."
The circuit court confirmed the decision of the Industrial Commission and this appeal followed.
• 1 Petitioner does not dispute the finding that respondent's injuries occurred in the course of her employment. Rather, petitioner contends that respondent's injuries did not arise out of her employment. In connection with this question, "[t]he injury must have its origin in some risk connected with or incident to the employment so as to create a causal connection between the employment and the injury." (A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. v. Industrial Com. (1986), 140 Ill. App.3d 766, 768, 489 N.E.2d 20, 21.) The Industrial Commission's finding that respondent's injuries arose out of her employment, drawing inferences from facts which are for the most part undisputed, was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. v. Industrial Com. (1986), 140 Ill. App.3d 766, 768, 489 N.E.2d 20, 21.
• 2 Not all injuries on employer-provided parking lots are compensable. The injury must be incidental to the anticipated normal use of the parking lot. (Aaron v. Industrial Com. (1974), 59 Ill.2d 267, 269, 319 N.E.2d 820, 821; A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. v. Industrial Com. (1986), 140 Ill. App.3d 766, 768, 489 N.E.2d 20, 21.) In the case at bar, respondent's injuries, incurred when she was struck by an automobile while she was crossing the road to get to the parking lot, were certainly incidental to the anticipated normal use of the parking lot and the road. That the accident occurred on the road rather than in the parking lot itself is not significant. Mast v. Rogers (1969), 118 Ill. App.2d 288, 292, 254 N.E.2d 179, 181 (accident on road maintained by employer which provided access to parking lot arose out of employment).
• 3 Petitioner argues that, because there was testimony from respondent that traffic in parking lots of shopping centers and grocery stores was not much different from that in the parking lot at the plant, there is no "evidence that the danger causing the injury was peculiar to the employee's work." This contention misses the mark. There was no showing that the public used or were exposed to the perils of the parking lot. Petitioner maintains visitors and truck drivers frequent the parking lot. There is no evidence that visitors were ever in the lot and no evidence of who employed the truck drivers. This lack of showing that the public was in the lot or exposed to its perils is sufficient to reject this argument. (Chmelik v. Vana (1964), 31 Ill.2d 272, 280, 201 N.E.2d 434, 439; A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co. v. Industrial Com. (1986), 140 Ill. App.3d 766, 769, 489 N.E.2d 20, 21.) Even if such a showing could be made, it would not help petitioner:
"The regular and continuous use of the parking lot by employees, most particularly at quitting time when there is a mass and speedy exodus of the vehicles on the lot, would result in a degree of exposure to the common risk beyond that to which the general public would be subjected." (Chmelik v. Vana (1964), 31 Ill.2d 272, 280, 201 N.E.2d 434, 439.)
The parties disagree over whether there was evidence of "a mass and speedy exodus of the vehicles on the lot." It does not seem that such evidence is necessary since it is "[t]he regular and continuous use of the parking lot by employees" which results "in a degree of exposure to the common risk beyond that to which the general public would be subjected." Although this occurs "most particularly at quitting time when there is a mass and speedy exodus of the vehicles on the lot," Chmelik does not hold that it is only at quitting time that a parking-lot injury arises out of the employment or that there must be evidence in each case of "a mass and speedy exodus" of vehicles for a parking-lot injury to be compensable.
• 4 Moreover, a finding that there was a "mass and speedy exodus" of vehicles would not have been contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. The only way for employees to get to and from work was by automobile. Although each employee did not drive her own automobile it would be reasonable to infer that a substantial number of automobiles were being used by the 100 employees who left the plant when respondent did. This taken with the testimony of Harvey Merriman, an employee of petitioner, that when a shift ends there are no traffic patterns, that employees just get in their cars and go, ...