Case name: Kernan v. State of New Jersey, No. A-4261-11T4 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 06/19/13, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division held that a judge was not entitled to benefits for her motor vehicle accident.
What it means: In New Jersey, a worker's accident during her commute to conduct a routine visit to one of her places of employment is not compensable.
Summary: A workers' compensation administrative supervisor judge supervised four offices. She primarily worked in one office, but visited the others for three days every three weeks. While driving from her home to one of the other offices, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained severe injuries. The judge filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits. The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, held that she was not entitled to benefits.
The judge asserted that because her employer directed her to visit the other offices, her accident and resulting injuries were compensable. The court disagreed, pointing out that at the time of the accident, she was on her way to work and not yet at work. Although she was reimbursed for her mileage and travel expenses, there was no proof that her commute was part of her workday.
The court found that the judge's argument did not establish causation. There also was no evidence that she confronted any "special hazards" posed by her employer during her travel.
The court also rejected the judge's argument that her accident was compensable under an exception to the going and coming rule. The court explained that because the injury did not occur on the employer's work sites, the judge would not be entitled to benefits unless she satisfied an exception. The "special mission" exception did not apply because she was engaged in a regular commute to one of her places of employment to begin the workday.
The "travel time" exception didn't apply because the judge wasn't paid a wage for her travel time, and she was in her personal vehicle when the accident occurred.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 19, 2013
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