New Jersey’s workers’ comp statutes can make it hard to tell whether a situation qualifies for coverage. For example, injuries sustained during an employee’s commute or lunch break may not be covered unless they were doing something for work. However, if they needed to go off-site for a meeting or to run errands and got hurt along the way, certain conditions may allow them to recover damages.
New Jersey’s “going and coming rule” and exceptions
Generally, employees must be injured in a work-related accident or occupational illness in the course of employment to be eligible for workers’ comp. The incident must occur at the place of employment, such as the company office or the home office for remote workers.
In New Jersey, an employee who gets hurt while “going and coming” to work may not be eligible for worker’s comp benefits. This is because commuting is not considered part of the job. Additionally, workers normally do not perform job-related duties on their way to the workplace.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
- Special mission: Employees who are required to perform work-related tasks during their commute, such as picking up supplies or meeting a client for dinner, may be covered.
- Driving a company vehicle: Employees who are provided a company vehicle may seek compensation if they are injured during their work commute in that vehicle.
- Paid to travel: Employees who do not have a fixed place of work and need to travel regularly, such as salespeople and plumbers, and those authorized to attend off-site work-related activities, such as conferences and meetings, may be eligible for workers’ comp.
After an off-site accident, it’s best for employees to immediately seek medical care and report the incident to their employer. Recovering compensation is not always so straightforward. How the employer benefitted from the employee’s actions outside the workplace may be a factor in determining the employee’s eligibility for workers’ comp.