In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey, you must get injured in a job-related accident. As a general rule, commuting is not considered to be a job-related activity. As a result, injuries that you suffer on the way to work or on the way home are not covered by workers’ compensation. In New Jersey, this is commonly known as the “going and coming rule.”
However, while New Jersey’s “going and coming rule” applies in most cases, there are a number of exceptions. If you were injured on your way to work or on your way home, it is important to analyze each of these exceptions in order to determine whether you are eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
7 Exceptions to New Jersey’s “Going and Coming Rule” for Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
The following are seven common exceptions to New Jersey’s “going and coming rule” for workers’ compensation eligibility.
1. Special Mission Exception
The first exception to the “going and coming rule” is commonly known as the “special mission” exception. Under this exception, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you are asked to perform a job-related task during your commute. For example, if your supervisor asks you to pick up supplies on the way in or drop off a package on the way home, then you may be covered in the event that you are injured in an accident during your commute.
2. Paid Travel Time Exception
If you travel for work, then you will generally be eligible for workers’ compensation for the injuries you sustain at any point during your travels. This is true for employees who travel regularly (such as account executives and site inspectors) as well as individuals who travel occasionally on an as-needed basis.
3. Use of a Company Vehicle
If you have access to a company vehicle and you are authorized to use that vehicle for commuting, then you will generally be covered while commuting in your company vehicle. This exception applies to work trucks, company sedans, and all other types of vehicles that your employer owns or leases and provides to employees for business purposes.
4. No Fixed Place of Work
Most people spend their work days at an office, warehouse, or other regular jobsite. However, if you do not have a fixed place of work, then the “going and coming rule” does not apply to you. For example, if you are a technician or other service provider and you spend your days traveling from one customer’s home or office to the next, then you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation, regardless of when your accident occurs (as long as it occurs within the scope of your employment).
5. Employer-Incentivized Carpooling
In an effort to “go green,” many employers are incentivizing their employees to carpool or rely on public transportation. If your employer provides a financial incentive or other direct benefit for you to carpool, then the “going and coming rule” may not apply on the days that you ride with someone else to get back and forth to work.
6. Work Outside of Normal Business Hours
If your employer asks you to perform a job-related task outside of your usual work hours, or if you are “on call” and subject to being called into work outside of normal business hours, this can provide an exception to the “going and coming rule” in some cases as well.
7. Employer-Controlled Premises Exception
If you are on your way to clock in or just getting started on your commute home, an accident that happens on premises that are owned or controlled by your employer may be covered under workers’ compensation. For example, if you slip and fall on an icy sidewalk or get hit in the parking lot at your place of employment, these are both situations in which workers’ compensation benefits may be available.
In 2014, attorney Frank Petro made headlines for successfully winning a case for an employee of Harrah’s Casino who was driving out of her employer’s parking lot and was struck by another vehicle on a public road. The Court reasoned that the employee was legally in the course of her employment, as she had not completely left the employer’s parking lot when the accident occurred.
Seeking Financial Compensation Outside of Workers’ Comp
Regardless of whether you are eligible to file for benefits, it is important to determine whether you are entitled to compensation outside of workers’ comp as well. Vehicle collisions and premises-related accidents are often the result of someone else’s negligence. And if someone else is to blame for your injuries, you may be entitled to full compensation for all of your injury-related losses.
Speak with a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free
If you have been injured in an accident and would like more information about your legal rights under New Jersey law, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free initial consultation.
The worker’s compensation team at Petro Cohen law firm, Frank Petro, Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, and Daniel Rosenthal, has more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey. This experience and winning track record means that you are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work hard for you.
Petro Cohen, P.C. has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Last fall, U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® announced the “Best Law Firms” rankings. Petro Cohen, P.C. was once again ranked in the 2020 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list and regionally for Workers’ Compensation Law, marking the firm’s tenth consecutive year on the prestigious list.
We have four offices throughout New Jersey (Northfield, Cape May Court House, Hamilton, and Cherry Hill), and offer free consultations. To speak with one of our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in confidence, please call 888-675-7607 or request an appointment online today.