Brown v. Reed

In Brown v. Reed, 209 Va. 562, 165 S.E.2d 394 (1969), the Supreme Court of Virginia held that the plaintiff's common law action against the defendant was barred by the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act because the accident arose out of and in the course of the parties' employment. The plaintiff was injured when he was struck by the defendant's vehicle as he was walking across the employer's parking lot to punch the time clock, beginning his workday. See Brown, 209 Va. at 563, 165 S.E.2d at 395-96. The defendant had completed his shift, showered, and changed his clothes in the company locker room before he struck the plaintiff as he was backing his vehicle out of the employer's parking lot. See id. The Court held that the common law action was barred because both parties were engaging in behavior anticipated by their employer. See id. at 568, 165 S.E.2d at 399. The Court reasoned that "there is no such thing as 'instantaneous exit.'" Id. at 565, 165 S.E.2d at 397. Employees have a reasonable time to exit the employer's premises, which includes making use of fringe benefits such as showers, locker rooms, and parking lots. See id. at 566, 165 S.E.2d at 397-98. Furthermore, the Court held that the employer benefits by providing and encouraging use of such fringe benefits because they promote good public relations and, in the case of parking lots, reduce absenteeism, promote timely arrival at work, and make employment at the company more attractive. See id. The Court, therefore, held the accident arose under the Workers' Compensation Act because both employees were using the employer's facilities at a time and in a manner encouraged and anticipated by the employer; thus, the plaintiff's injury arose out of and in the course of his employment. See id. at 568, 165 S.E.2d at 399.