When you hear the words “workers’ compensation” and “workplace injury” a car accident might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Often, we associate NJ workers compensation with back injuries from lifting heavy inventory, a fracture from slipping on a warehouse floor or misusing equipment on a construction site.
However, a number of professions involve travel by car or another motor vehicle – truck drivers and delivery people being two immediate examples. It’s possible that car accident injuries sustained during these work activities are covered by NJ workers’ compensation and entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.
What Workplace Injuries Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Each state determines the laws and regulations that govern workers’ compensation in that particular state. In New Jersey, the Workers’ Compensation Law found in Title 34, Chapter 15, Articles 1 to 10 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes provides the eligibility requirements, employer obligations, and exceptions to NJ workers’ compensation.
Included in the statute is the standard for when an accident results in a workplace injury and the employee eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In New Jersey, the eligibility standard is those accidents, “arising out of and in the course of his employment.” If car accident injuries are going to qualify an employee for workers’ compensation, they must be sustained because of or during the course of employment.
When Is a Car Accident in the Course of Employment?
Car accident injuries are eligible for workers’ compensation when the collision or crash occurred while the employee was working, performing a work-related errand, or heading to a work meeting. The most obvious and situations are when the employee drives for a living. As stated earlier, this includes delivery people and truckers. Many other professions require constant driving, taxi drivers, chauffeurs, bus drivers, operators of dump trucks and other construction vehicles, ambulance drivers, and racecar drivers.
When a chauffeur or delivery driver is injured in an accident while working, it is usually straightforward to show that the accident happened in the course of employment. The employee is driving a company vehicle, the very job description includes driving and operation of a vehicle, and in many instances, it’s required to pass a driving test to take the position. Car accidents involving other types of employees aren’t so clear.
Car Accident Injuries When an Employee Doesn’t Drive for a Living
Over the years, the New Jersey Department of Labor and courts have considered several cases involving employee claims for workers’ compensation from car accidents. Accountants, florists, hospice nurses, and architects have all been in car accidents while driving to or from a meeting, on their way home from work, in the office’s parking garage, while running a corporate errand, and otherwise.
From these claims, New Jersey has put certain standards for car accident injuries in place.
Employees are covered for car accident injuries occurring while on a special mission for work or when on paid time travel. Both of these situations are considered work-related. Special missions include deliveries or pickups that are requested by a supervisor or manager, required travel to a meeting or appointment, and driving for a work emergency. Workers on paid time travel include health care professionals that perform in-home visits and treatment.
When Aren’t Car Accident Injuries Work-Related?
Several New Jersey workers’ compensation claims questioned whether travel to and from work was considered in the course of employment or work-related. New Jersey courts decided these accidents weren’t covered by workers’ compensation in the “going and coming rule.” But over the years there were a large number of exceptions to this rule. To clarify whether car accidents occurring to and from work were under workers’ compensation the New Jersey legislature stepped in.
Section 34:15-36 of the New Jersey Revised Statutes states that travel to and from work is not in the course of employment. Therefore, accidents during daily commutes are not covered by New Jersey workers’ compensation.
Speaking with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The Law Offices of Albert J. Talone have over 15 years of experience handling workers’ compensation cases in New Jersey. We are prepared to answer your toughest questions about what accidents are covered by workers’ compensation and how to file a claim. Contact us at (856)-234-4023.
The information in this blog post (“Post”) is provided for general informational purposes only. This information may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this Post should be construed as legal advice from The Law Office of Albert J. Talone or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.