Intercontinental Hotels Group and American Zurich Ins. Co., Petitioners,
Utah Labor Commission and Jessica Wilson, Respondents.
Certification from the Court of Appeals
A. Gardner, Kristy L. Bertelsen, Scott R. Taylor, Salt Lake
City, for petitioners
Christopher C. Hill, Salt Lake City, for respondent Utah
E. Atkin, Kenneth E. Atkin, Salt Lake City, for respondent
Justice Durrant authored the opinion of the Court, in which
Associate Chief Justice Lee, Justice Himonas, Justice Pearce,
and Justice Petersen joined.
Durrant, Chief Justice.
Jessica Wilson was injured after she tripped and fell in a
parking lot while walking into work. To pay for her injuries,
Ms. Wilson requested workers' compensation benefits from
her employer, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), which IHG
denied. Ms. Wilson appealed this denial to the Utah Labor
Commission, and the Labor Commission ordered IHG to award
benefits. IHG now asks us to overturn the Labor
Commission's decision. Because the Labor Commission did
not err in concluding that Ms. Wilson's injuries arose
out of, and in the course of, her employment with IHG, we
decline to do so.
Ms. Wilson tripped and fell in a parking lot next to
IHG's office building while on her way to work. Although
IHG does not own the parking lot in which Ms. Wilson fell, it
does have a "nonexclusive right" to use the entire
parking lot, as well as "exclusive parking rights"
to certain spaces in the lot. At the time of the fall, the
parking lot was free of any obvious tripping hazards, such as
ice, cracks, or other defects.
As a result of the fall, Ms. Wilson injured her right foot-an
injury that necessitated two surgeries and the amputation of
her right third toe. To cover her medical costs, and to
receive temporary disability compensation, Ms. Wilson filed a
workers' compensation claim. But American Zurich
Insurance Co., IHG's workers' compensation provider,
denied Ms. Wilson's claim because it believed that, under
the going-and-coming rule, her accident did not arise out of
and in the course of her employment-a prerequisite to
workers' compensation coverage under Utah law. Ms. Wilson
challenged this denial by filing a claim with the Labor
An administrative law judge with the Labor Commission
reviewed Ms. Wilson's claim and, after holding an
evidentiary hearing, concluded that Ms. Wilson was entitled
to workers' compensation benefits. The judge found that
Ms. Wilson had "slipped and f[allen] in the parking area
her employer directed her to use." As a result, the
judge concluded that she was entitled to compensation under
what courts often refer to as the premises rule. IHG appealed
this decision to the Labor Commission's appeals board.
The Labor Commission affirmed the administrative law
judge's ruling. In so doing, it found that "the
communal parking area where the accident occurred [was] . . .
part of IHG's premises for purposes of determining
compensability under the Utah Workers' Compensation
Act." For this reason, it held that Ms. Wilson's
injury was "not precluded from compensability under the
going and coming rule and the accident [wa]s considered to
have arisen out of and in the course of her employment."
In accordance with Utah Code section 63G-4-401, IHG
petitioned the Utah Court of Appeals to review the entirety
of the Labor Commission's order. The court of appeals
subsequently certified the case to this court. We have
jurisdiction pursuant to Utah Code section 78A-3-102(3)(b).
IHG asks us to reconsider the Labor Commission's order
affirming the award of workers' compensation benefits to
Ms. Wilson. "Whether the [Labor] [C]ommission correctly
or incorrectly denied benefits is 'a traditional mixed
question of law and fact.'" And the "standard of
review we apply when reviewing a mixed question can be either
deferential or non-deferential.""Deference on a mixed
question is warranted when the mixed finding is not
law-like because it does not lend itself to consistent
resolution by a uniform body of appellate precedent or
is fact-like because the [factfinder] is in a
superior position to decide it." In this case, we must review
two Labor Commission determinations: one determination that
is law-like-whether certain "going and coming"
exception factors we identified in a previous case applied to
accidents on an employer's premises-and another that is
fact-like- whether the accident in this case occurred on the
employer's premises. Accordingly, we review the first
determination without deference, and the second determination
IHG argues that the Labor Commission erred when it determined
that Ms. Wilson was entitled to workers' compensation
benefits under Utah Code section 34A-2-401 (workers'
compensation statute). This statute entitles an employee to
workers' compensation benefits if the employee "is
injured . . . by accident arising out of and in
the course of the employee's
employment." The workers' compensation statute
includes two requirements that are relevant to this case: the
accident must (1) arise out of Ms. Wilson's employment
with IHG, and (2) occur in the course of her employment with
IHG. IHG argues that the accident did not arise out of Ms.
Wilson's employment, because her injury did not stem from
an employment-related risk. And it argues that the accident
did not occur in the course of employment, because Ms. Wilson
was traveling to work at the time. We disagree on both counts.
Wilson's Accident Arose Out of Her Employment With IHG
The first piece of the workers' compensation statute at
issue is the meaning of the phrase "arising out of"
employment. Ms. Wilson was injured when she tripped and fell
in a parking lot next to IHG's office building while on
her way to work. At the time of the fall, the parking lot was
free of any obvious tripping hazards, such as ice, cracks, or
other defects. IHG argues that the workers' compensation
statute does not cover the unexplained fall in this case,
because the "arising out of" element introduces a
causation element into the workers' compensation statute.
And IHG argues that this causation element limits
compensation to only those injuries sustained as a result of
exposure to risk "to which the general public is not
exposed." Although we agree that the phrase
"arising out of" introduces a causation element
into the analysis, we hold that, in the workers'
compensation context, the causation element is broad enough
to encompass the unexplained fall in this case.
The phrase "arising out of" introduces an element
of causation into the workers' compensation analysis
The "arising out of" requirement in the
workers' compensation statute requires that an accident
be caused, in some sense, by an employee's employment. In
Bountiful Brick Co. v. Giles, the United States
Supreme Court stated that liability for an employee's
injury "was constitutionally imposed under the Utah
Compensation Law if there was a causal connection
between the injury and the employment." And in Utah
Apex Mining Co. v. Industrial Commission of
Utah,  one of our earliest workers'
compensation cases, we explained that the "arising out
of" phrase "refer[s] to the origin or cause of the
injury." Subsequent cases have also interpreted the
"arising out of" language as introducing a
causation element into the statute. So, under our case law, the
phrase "arising out of" introduces a causation
requirement into the workers' compensation analysis. We
further clarified the nature of this causation requirement in
Allen v. Industrial Commission.
In Allen, we explained that the workers'
compensation statute contained a causation requirement that
made it necessary to distinguish those injuries that
"coincidentally occur at work because a preexisting
condition results in symptoms which appear during work hours
without any enhancement from the workplace," from those
injuries which occur because of some condition or exertion
required by the employment. After recognizing this
causation requirement, we adopted Professor Larson's
"two-part causation test." The two parts of this
test are (1) legal causation and (2) medical causation. We
explained that under "the legal test, the law must
define what kind of exertion satisfies the test of
'arising out of the employment.'" And under the
medical causation test, "the doctors must say whether
the exertion (having been held legally sufficient to support
compensation) in fact caused this
[injury]."Thus, Allen established that
injuries legally and medically caused by a work accident
satisfy the "arising out of" element of the
workers' compensation statute. Accordingly, we agree
with IHG that the phrase "arising out of"
introduces a causation requirement into the workers'
Ms. Wilson's accident satisfies the causation
Although IHG correctly states that the phrase "arising
out of" requires a causal connection between an
employee's injury and employment, we reject IHG's
argument that this element limits workers' compensation
to only those injuries sustained as a result of exposure to
risk "to which the general public is not exposed."
IHG argues that the workers' compensation statute
provides benefits only for those injuries that occur because
the employee's employment creates "an increased risk
of injury" due to the nature of the employee's work
responsibilities. According to IHG, this more restrictive
view of causation would seemingly include only such risks as
"falling objects, explosives, fingers getting caught in
a machine, or a very heavy lift of an object"-in short,
only those risks inherent in employment in heavy industry.
But we reject this argument because it is inconsistent with
our case law.
Our previous cases have made clear that in applying the legal
causation component of Allen's two-part
causation test, we need not determine whether the nature of
an employee's work responsibilities created an increased
risk to which the general public was not exposed. Instead, we
need only determine whether the employee's
employment can be considered "a condition out
of which the event arises."
Significantly, this does not require an injured employee to
prove that a condition of the employment produced "the
event in affirmative fashion." Rather, an accident is
legally caused by employment if it occurs "as a natural
consequence" of the employee's
employment. So when the requirements of the
workers' compensation statute are triggered, the employer
is obligated to provide benefits "regardless of who was
at fault in causing [the accident]." The
unexplained fall in this case meets that requirement.
Where "an employee falls while walking down the sidewalk
or across a level factory floor for no discoverable
reason," the causation requirement is satisfied because
the "particular injury would not have happened if the
employee had not been engaged upon an employment errand at
the time." In other words, in unexplained falls at
work, employment constitutes a condition out of which the
accident arises because that particular accident would not
have happened where and when it did if employment obligations
had not required the employee to be walking where he or she
was walking at the time of the accident. Although this
concept of causation would be insufficient to sustain a
finding of tort liability, "most courts confronted with
the unexplained-fall problem have seen fit to award
compensation" in the workers' compensation
context. Our case law is consistent with this
In Bountiful Brick, the Supreme Court explicitly
held that there "was a causal connection" between
an employee's employment and an injury the employee
suffered while walking. The Court explained that
"employment includes not only the actual doing of the
work, but a reasonable margin of time and space necessary to
be used in passing to and from the place where the work is to
be done." And if "the employee [is] injured
while passing" to or from the place where work is to be
done "the injury is one arising out of and in the course
of the employment." So Bountiful Brick suggests
that where an employee suffers an injury during travel to a
work site, the employee's obligation to travel to the
work site sufficiently connects the injury to the employment,
thus satisfying the causation requirement.
And this reasoning accords with a number of other Utah cases
in which we, or the court of appeals, awarded workers'
compensation benefits despite the accidents at issue having
stemmed from risks to which the general public is equally
exposed. For example, Utah courts have awarded compensation
for injuries sustained in car accidents,  while
shoveling snow,  while walking in a parking lot,
and while walking on ice on a public street. In each of
these cases, employment did not increase the risk of injury
beyond that to which a member of the public would have been
exposed. Nevertheless, in each case, we, or the court of
appeals, found the injury compensable because it occurred
while the employee engaged in an activity connected to the
employee's work responsibilities. Accordingly,
we reject IHG's risk-based argument, and apply the legal
causation test identified in our case law.
In this case, Ms. Wilson's unexplained fall satisfies the
causation requirement described in our case law. Ms.
Wilson's accident occurred while she walked into work.
And even though Ms. Wilson could just as easily have slipped
while walking to the mall or through the park, Ms.
Wilson's "particular injury would not have
happened" where and when it did but for her obligation
to appear at IHG's offices on the morning of the
accident.Accordingly, Ms. Wilson's employment
was "a condition" out of which her accident
In sum, we hold that an injury arises out of employment if
the employment was a condition out of which the accident
occurred. More specifically, we hold that a slip-and-fall
accident arises out of employment where the employee slips
and falls in a place, and at a time, in which the employee
would not otherwise have been but for the employee's
employment obligations. Because Ms. Wilson slipped and fell
in a parking lot on her way to work-a place she would not
have been were she not obligated to report to work on the day
of the accident-we hold that her accident arose out of her
Wilson's Accident Also Occurred in the Course of Her
Employment Because it Occurred on IHG's Premises
In addition to the "arising out of" requirement,
the workers' compensation statute also requires an
accident to have occurred "in the course of"
employment. The Labor Commission, citing what courts commonly
refer to as the premises rule or premises exception, found
that Ms. Wilson's accident occurred in the course of her
employment. IHG argues this was error. It does so in two
First, IHG argues that the premises rule is an exception to
what we refer to as the going-and-coming rule, and that,
after our decision in Jex v. Utah Labor Commission,
the Labor Commission was required to consider two
factors-benefit and control-before applying it in this
case. But IHG errs in assuming the
going-and-coming rule is relevant in cases involving
accidents on an employer's premises. It is not. The
going-and-coming rule applies only in cases in which an
employee is injured off of an employer's premises. And
because the purpose of the Jex factors is to help
courts determine whether an exception to the going-and-coming
rule should be made, the Jex factors apply only in
cases in which an employee is injured off of an
employer's premises. In this case, the Labor Commission
found that the accident occurred on IHG's premises.
Accordingly, we conclude the Labor Commission did not err in
determining that the going-and-coming rule does not bar
compensation. And in so concluding, we clarify the nature of
the going-and-coming rule and what is often referred to as
the premises exception to it.
Second, IHG argues that, even were the Labor Commission not
required to consider the Jex factors, it
nevertheless erred in determining that Ms. Wilson's
accident occurred on IHG's premises. We disagree. Because
the Labor Commission did not err in finding that IHG's
premises included the parking lot in which Ms. Wilson fell,
we also affirm the Labor Commission's finding on this
Under the going-and-coming rule, accidents that occur while
traveling on an employer's premises occur "in the
course of employment"
First, IHG argues that the Labor Commission erred in applying
the premises rule as a bright-line rule instead of
considering the benefit and control factors that we
identified in our Jex case. But this argument rests
on the mistaken assumption that the going-and-coming rule
applies to cases involving accidents that occur on an
employer's premises. This mistake is understandable in
light of cases that have discussed the premises rule as if it
were a distinct exception to the going-and-coming
rule. But a closer look at the origins of the
going-and-coming rule makes clear that the rule is
inapplicable in cases involving accidents on an
employer's premises. And it also makes clear that what
courts sometimes refer to as the premises rule, or premises
exception, is nothing more than a shorthand description of a
circumstance in which the going-and-coming rule does not
The going-and-coming rule is a "judicially adopted
principle" that guides courts in determining whether an
accident an employee suffers while traveling between home and
work occurred in the course of the employee's
employment. An accident occurs in the course of
employment if it occurs in "the time, place, and
circumstances" typical of the employee's
employment. For example, in Black v.
McDonald's of Layton,  we explained that to
"be embraced within the ambit of 'course of
employment,' the injury must be received while the
employee is carrying on the work which he is called upon to
perform or doing some act incidental thereto."
So, to occur "in the course of" employment, an
accident "must occur within the period of employment, at
a place or area where the employee may reasonably be, and
while the employee is engaged in an activity at least
incidental to his employment." This language clearly
includes employees who are injured while actively engaged in
the work they are assigned to do during a time, and in the
place, in which they are assigned to do it. But the language
applies less clearly to accidents employees suffer while
traveling to or from their work.
Professor Larson discusses the difficulty presented when an
accident occurs while an ...