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Rose Jones was employed at the University of California, Irvine campus as the Director of Scholarship Opportunities .

On the day of the incident, at the end of her workday, she exited her office suite at UCI’s science library, walked her bike a short distance to the bike path on Outer Ring Road, mounted her bike, and began riding toward her home. After riding for about 10 seconds, Jones reached a trench, cordoned off with orange posts and caution tape. Upon noticing the obstacle, she swerved and attempted to brake but fell off her bike and sustained injuries.

She subsequently sued the University alleging premises liability and negligence, and her husband alleging loss of consortium. The parties and the trial court subsequently treated Jones’s claims as a claim for dangerous condition of public property under Government Code section 835.

The University moved for summary judgment, claiming that Jones’s injuries occurred within the course of her employment and that the workers’ compensation exclusivity rule therefore barred this action. It noted Jones was still on the University’s premises and argued her injuries were subject to the workers’ compensation scheme under the premises line rule. The University alternatively contended Jones could not recover under Government Code section 835 because she did not exercise due care at the time of the accident.

The trial court granted the University’s motion for summary judgment. It concluded the exclusivity rule barred Jones’s claim because her injuries occurred within the course of her employment as a matter of law based on the premises line rule. It further concluded that, as a matter of law, Jones did not use due care at the time of the accident.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court in the unpublished case of Jones v. Regents of the University of California -G061787 (October 2023)

Under the judicially created “going and coming rule” an employee’s injury while commuting to and from work is not compensable under the workers’ compensation system absent “special or extraordinary circumstances.”

In an effort to create a sharp line of demarcation as to when the employee’s commute terminates and the course of employment commences, courts adopted the premises line rule, which provides that the employment relationship generally commences once the employee enters the employer’s premises. The same rule applies when the employee is leaving the work premises, provided he does not unnecessarily loiter thereon.

Highlighting the merits of the premises line rule, our Supreme Court explained in General Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (1976) 16 Cal.3d 595 “The ‘premises line’ has the advantage of enabling courts to ascertain the point at which employment begins-objectively and fairly.”

The Court of Appeal wrote we “conclude the worker’s compensation exclusivity rule barred appellants’ claims because Jones’s injuries occurred in the course and scope of her employment as a matter of law. Her accident occurred on UCI’s campus, undisputedly owned by the University, just after she left her workstation. Under these circumstances, the premises line rule brought Jones’s injuries within the worker’s compensation scheme. (General Ins. Co., supra, 16 Cal.3d at p. 598.)”