Driver secures benefits for fall on bus away from employer's premises
Case name: Benvenutti v. Scholastic Bus Co., No. A-3732-11T1 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 04/04/13).
Ruling: The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that a driver was entitled to compensation for her ankle injury.
What it means:
In New Jersey, a worker's injury may be compensable even if the injury occurred off the employer's premises.
A school bus driver cleaned the bus interior after each run and inspected the seat belts. The driver parked her bus at her home after her morning run. She swept the bus and inspected the seat belts. She tripped over a piece of rubber mat and fell as she was exiting the bus, resulting in an ankle injury. The driver sought benefits. The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that the driver was entitled to benefits.
The driver was paid additional money to clean the bus interior. Her employer did not specify an exact time or place where the bus should be cleaned. The employer acknowledged that the driver was permitted to clean the bus off-premises and allowed her to take her bus home between her morning and afternoon runs.
The court rejected the employer's assertion that the driver's injury did not arise out of and in the course of employment because she was injured while exiting the bus at her home and was not working at the time of the incident. The court explained that the definition of "employment" includes situations in which the worker is physically away from the employer's premises but is "engaged in the direct performance of duties assigned or directed by the employer." The court explained that cleaning the bus was an integral part of the driver's job, and the employer had knowledge of and expressly allowed her to take the bus home and clean it off-premises.
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July 29, 2013
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