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Hurt walking between your car and work: can you get compensation?

| Apr 21, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

New Jersey law states that to qualify for workers’ compensation, an injury must have taken place in the course of their employment. Among other things, this generally means the worker must be performing their regular job duties at their job site at the time of the injury. But that has been expanded to include injuries sustained in the employee parking lot in some cases.

But say the parking lot is across the street or several blocks away from the workplace. What happens if an employee is hit by a car or falls on a patch of ice while walking to work? A bill currently in the state Assembly would make injuries from these types of injuries compensable under workers’ comp.

Nurse denied workers’ comp after accident on the way to parking lot

It appears this bill is at least partly in reaction to a 2019 decision by the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Appellate Division that went against a nurse who was hit by a car. The nurse had ended her shift and was walking to the hospital-owned parking lot where her vehicle was waiting when she was struck. The court ruled that since the woman’s injuries did not occur inside the hospital or in the parking lot, she did not qualify for workers’ compensation.

The state Senate approved this bill in January. As of mid-March, it was before the Assembly Labor Committee.

The logic of this bill

A worker must first get to their place of work before they can perform their job duties. When they cannot control where their employer directs them to park or the path between the parking site and the workplace, it seems to make sense that this last part of their commute should be covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.