Many injuries occur when people are coming and going to work––before work starts and at the end of the day. Where an accident occurs will determine whether the injury will be covered under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation statute.
The Coming And Going Rule
Generally speaking, motor vehicle accidents that happen during your regular commute, especially when either driving to work or from work, will not be covered under workers’ compensation rules. However, if your job duties require that you drive during work, an accident that occurs while performing your job duties is compensable.
This is known as the “Coming and Going Rule” and generally holds that employment doesn’t begin until an employee arrives at work, is on the premises, has clocked into work, and begins the work day. Employment doesn’t end until the employee leaves the place of employment.
Under the Coming and Going Rule, accidents that occur when an employee arrives at the parking lot at work, but have not yet arrived at their workstation, are sometimes covered, depending on the facts of the accident or injury.
For example, if an employee parks in a lot that is used by the public, but not specifically for employees, an accident will generally not be covered by workers’ compensation. However, if the lot is owned or controlled by the employer, specifically if there is an area of the lot that is designated an employee parking area, then the employer generally has control of the lot and an accident that occurs there will be compensable.
Exceptions to the Coming and Going Rule
There are two exceptions to the coming and going rule :
Paid Travel – this exception provides door-to-door coverage for an employee who is traveling to a job site. If you are paid for your travel and you go to a distant travel site and your employer has authorized a vehicle for your use during that travel, or if you are in a ridesharing or carpooling situation, an accident that occurs on the way to the job site will be covered under New Jersey’s workers compensation statute.
For example, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident on your way to the airport to fly to an out-of-town business meeting, an accident that occurs on the way will be considered compensable because you were in the course of your employment from door-to-door in that situation.
Special Missions – this allows an injury that occurs when you are working, but required to be away from the conventional place of employment and are engaged in the direct performance of your employment at the time of your injury.
For example, if you are a salesperson who works from home, but meets clients at a place of the client’s choosing to conduct your business, or needs to travel to the post office to mail documents to a client and you are involved in an accident on the way to the meeting, or slip and fall at the post office, your injuries would be compensable under workers’ compensation because the accident occurred while performing the duties required for your job.
If you have any specific questions regarding workers’ compensation for injuries that occur coming and going from work, you should consult with an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney who can answer all of your questions and assist you with successfully filing a New Jersey workers’ compensation claim.