Does New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation System Cover Injuries That Happen Offsite?
Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Dec 02, 2020 in Workers' Compensation News
New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits to employees who suffer injuries while doing their jobs. Most workers’ comp claims involve injuries that occurred while employees were at their employer’s main location or worksite.
However, sometimes claims involve injuries that happened offsite, such as injuries that happen while making deliveries or while on business trips. Employees may be unsure if these injuries are covered.
Our experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers discuss these situations below and the factors that go into eligibility for benefits. If you believe you were engaged in a work-related activity when the injury occurred, you may be eligible for benefits. You can feel free to call our firm to schedule a free consultation and discuss the situation with us.
Workers’ Comp Eligibility in New Jersey
When it comes to eligibility, there are a few things to remember:
- Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” insurance program
- Any employer with one or more employees must have workers’ comp coverage.
- New Jersey has a more liberal interpretation for the meaning of employee when it comes to workers’ compensation.
How does that apply to offsite injuries?
To put it simply, if you are an employee of a company that is required to have coverage, and you suffer an injury in the course of your employment, you should be eligible for benefits. The injury may have happened offsite, but you should still be eligible.
Examples of Work-Related Offsite Activities
Each situation is unique and should be discussed with a licensed attorney. However, these are some examples of situations that may be covered:
- Making a delivery: Delivery truck drivers may be eligible for benefits if they get injured in a car crash while making a delivery.
- Working remotely: If you were on the clock and working remotely, injuries that occur are likely covered.
- Going on a business trip: If you go on a trip to meet with a client and while you are out of town when you suffer an injury, it may be covered.
- Running an errand for your boss: If your boss asks you to go to the bank and deposit money from the business, or pick up something, like office supplies, you are likely engaging in work-related activity.
- Eating lunch: If you leave your desk or workstation to go eat in the cafeteria, you are technically away from your work area. However, you are still technically on-site, so injuries that occur during this time are likely covered.
Simply using a company car while offsite does not automatically make you eligible for benefits. For example, you cannot recover benefits for an injury during your commute or while engaging in other non-work activities.
What About Recreational Activities?
In some states, injuries that happen at company-sponsored recreational activities may be covered. For example, employees may be covered if they were injured at a company-sponsored picnic or holiday party.
However, this may not be the case in New Jersey. According to state workers’ comp law, an injury that happens during an employer-sponsored off-duty recreational activity that is not part of the employee’s duties is not covered if attendance at the event was not mandatory. That may mean injuries during things like company fitness programs or team-building events are not covered.
That said, if you planned the event on company time and it was part of your job, you may be covered if you suffer an injury.
What to do After an Offsite Injury
Your eligibility for benefits needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, particularly with an offsite injury.
However, even if you are unsure about your eligibility, seeking medical treatment right away is a good first step, as it helps to link your injury to your job. This is one of the main things your lawyer needs to prove to validate your claim. Immediate medical treatment can help to stabilize your injury and possibly reduce the risk of further damage.
You should also notify your employer right away. That way if you are eligible, it will be more difficult to dispute the connection between the activity you were engaged in and your job.
Schedule a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Situation
Injured workers often have many questions about workers’ compensation benefits. They may wrongly think they are ineligible, or it is not worth filing a claim.
However, a wide variety of injuries qualify for benefits and it is generally best to meet with a licensed attorney to discuss your potential eligibility. The consultation with an experienced attorney at Geoff McDonald and Associates is free and comes with no legal obligation.
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