Where Does Your Job Begin?
On May 9, 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Hersh v. Morris County, to decide physically where employment begins. Ms. Hersh, an employee of the County, was assigned a scan card to allow her access to a parking garage where the County maintained parking privileges for its workers. On her way to work from the garage to her office, she was struck by a car while crossing the street and suffered severe injuries. She claimed workers compensation benefits, including disability and medical treatment.
Initially her claim was denied. Ms. Hersh claimed that the parking garage was part of her employer’s premises and that work began once she parked her car there. The County responded by saying that even if the parking garage was considered employer-controlled, once she left the garage and entered the public street area, she was no longer within the employer’s sphere of employment. Consequently, she wasn’t covered by workers compensation.
So far the New Jersey courts agree that Ms. Hersh is entitled to workers compensation. According to the appellate court, although the garage wasn’t owned by the County, the parking spaces were merely leased, the County was still considered to be in control, having given its employee access to the parking. That she left the parking garage to walk two blocks to her office also did not absolve the County of liability for paying workers compensation. The appellate court reasoned that the County chose a parking location that required the claimant to cross a busy thoroughfare. She consequently lost the ability to decide where she wanted to park and assess the risks herself.
Now it’s up to the New Jersey Supreme Court to decide.
Workplace injuries can occur outside of the workplace and still be compensable under New Jersey workers compensation law. Only experienced workers compensation attorneys, knowledgeable about the intricacies of New Jersey law, can adequately represent your interests. Call for a free consultation.