To successfully recover workers' compensation benefits in New Jersey, you must show two things: that you were injured and that the injury was sustained during the performance of normal duties of the job. In most instances, it's not an issue-if you are hurt in a work-related accident, if you can show that the repetitive stress of your job caused an injury, or if you can show exposure to a toxic substance that led to an illness, you'll likely meet the test. But there are some situations where questions can arise.
INJURIES SUFFERED WHILE ON A BREAK
Under labor laws, you are entitled to a lunch break and to intermittent breaks throughout your shift. What happens if you slip on the floor at a restaurant while out to lunch? Is it any different if you fall and hurt yourself at the company's cafeteria or coffee shop? The answer, as with most things, is that "it depends."
If you've left your employer's premises to get lunch at an unrelated restaurant, any injuries you suffer will likely not be covered under a workers' compensation claim. However, if you were picking up food for a company luncheon or your boss asked you to get him some lunch, you may successfully argue that you were on a work-related task when you were hurt.
If the injury occurs at a company eatery, you probably have a valid workers' compensation claim.
INJURIES SUFFERED WHILE TRAVELING FOR THE COMPANY
As a general rule, an injury sustained on your commute is not covered, unless your boss asked you to go out of your way to take care of some work-related task. For example, if the boss asks you to stop and pick up bagels for the office, and you are in a car accident while on that trip, you may have a claim. If you are on a business trip and suffer an injury, chances are good that you'll be able to recover workers' compensation, unless the activity you were engaged in was clearly personal. For example, if you go to a nightclub for personal enjoyment while on a business trip, you probably won't have a claim. But if you took a prospective client or customer there in an attempt to get their business, it will probably be covered.
CONTACT THE PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS AT MALLON & TRANGER
We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has suffered a needless injury. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-702-0333 (toll free at ) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.