New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws were established to protect workers who are injured during the course of their employment. However, some injuries that occur at times when you are not actually working may be covered as well. One such injury is an injury the occurs in the parking lot of your place of employment.
In general, while you may technically not have been punched in for the day, or may have already punched out for the day, parking lot injuries will usually be covered, provided that you can establish a few factors:
- A reasonable timeframe – The injury must have occurred at a time that was in close proximity to the time that you would have been working i.e., a reasonable time before or after work.
- Employer control of the parking lot – The parking lot in which you were injured must have been under the direction or control of your employer. While it’s not necessary to show that your employer owned the lot, you must show that they had some interest in it––controlling access, contributing to its maintenance, or directing you to park there.
- Increased risk factors – You must establish that there was something about the parking lot that increased your risk of being injured i.e., it was icy, the snow had not been plowed, it was poorly lit, it was riddled with potholes or any other defects in the pavement of the lot.
This applies to any injury sustained while coming and going to your employer’s premises for work or company-related business, including employer-sponsored events, such as company picnics, birthday parties, and retirement parties.
However, any deviation from the acts of specifically coming and going from work or company-related business may result in the denial of a workers’ compensation claim, should an injury occur, this includes:
- Changing a tire in the employer’s parking lot;
- Hanging around to chat with coworkers; or
- Retrieving wood from broken pallets to use in your wood burning stove.
These acts will be considered “personal missions” and therefore not subject to workers’ compensation.
To summarize, injuries sustained on your employer’s premises or premises controlled by your employer, (including the parking lot) while coming and going from work are generally subject to workers’ compensation. This is provided that the injury occurred at a reasonable time before or after work (or a company-related event), the lot was owned or controlled by your employer, the lot presented some increased risk of injury to you, and that you did not deviate from coming and going to work to take care of your own affairs.
For more precise information, contact an experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for a review of the specific circumstance of your case.