The workers compensation system in New Jersey is mandatory for most employers in the state. The system is a no-fault process, meaning that employees are entitled to benefits (usually 67% of your average weekly wage) regardless of who was at fault for the injury. The system is designed to protect employees by having a safety net in the event of a workplace accident as well as employers who are protected from many types of lawsuits. There are some tricky situations in which employees may have questions about whether or not their injury is covered under workers compensation -- one of which is the Going and Coming Rule.
What is the going and coming rule in workers comp in New Jersey?
In order to be eligible for workers compensation benefits in New Jersey, you must be injured in a job-related accident or become ill as a result of your job. Generally this means that the accident takes place at your workplace or your home office if you work remotely. Commuting to and from your job (going and coming) is not considered to be a job-related activity. Therefore, any injuries you sustain while commuting to and from work are not eligible for workers compensation benefits.
Exceptions to the going and coming rule
There are some exceptions to this rule including:
- Driving is part of your job. Many people do not have fixed places of work and drive as part of their jobs. For instance, police officers, delivery drivers, service technicians, home healthcare workers, traveling salespeople, and others all drive to various locations throughout the day. If you’ve been injured in an accident during the course of your job, you would be eligible for workers compensation. If you were on a break or not clocked in at the time, the going and coming rule would apply.
- You have a company car. If you drive a company car or vehicle and are injured in an accident, you may be able to claim benefits for workers compensation.
- Traveling for work. If you are paid to travel for your job, you are generally covered under workers compensation for any injuries you sustain for the entire duration of your trip. Even if you’re in meetings or at a conference for a portion of the day, you would be considered to be working for the entire trip.
- Special mission. A special mission doesn’t have to be trip to the moon! You may be eligible for workers compensation benefits if you had to complete a task for your supervisor along the way to or coming from work. For instance, a supervisor asking you to pick up documents or lunch for the office and you’re injured in an accident during the course of performing those tasks.
- Working outside of regular business hours. If your position requires that work or perform certain duties after hours, such as being on call, you may be eligible for workers compensation benefits.
- Injuries on company property. If you slip and fall on an icy sidewalk or are hit in a parking lot owned or operated by your employer, you may be eligible for workers compensation for these accidents on the premises of your employer.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident on Your Way to Work
If you’ve been injured in a car accident on your way to work -- or any time you may have a work-related injury, make sure to follow these steps to protect your rights and best interest:
- Report the injury to your manager: In New Jersey, you have up to 14 days to report the injury to your employer. Failure to do so could result in your claim being denied.
- Seek medical care immediately: Not only does medical care start the healing process, it also provides evidence and documentation for your injuries. If an employee does not seek medical care after an injury, the company could argue that the injury/illness was not that serious.
- Keep documentation: Make sure to keep and organize all of your bills and expenses related to the accident.
- Contact a lawyer: It is important to have an advocate who understands the complexity of the New Jersey workers compensation system and can guide you through the process as you focus on healing.
Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in a work vehicle or while working, you should speak with an attorney. While the process may seem straight-forward, it does not necessarily guarantee that you will be compensated fairly. At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are dedicated to assisting clients throughout New Jersey and New York with both car accidents and workers’ compensation cases. We have years of experience and the extensive resources you need to secure a fair case result. Contact us today for a free consultation.