Newly Proposed Legislation for New Jersey Workplace Injuries
Understanding the Newly Proposed Legislation Affecting Workplace Injuries in Parking Lots: Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in NJ Explains
In proposed legislation passed in the New Jersey Senate on January 11, 2021, Senate Bill 771 (NJ S771) seeks to expand workers’ compensation coverage to parking lots and designated parking areas. The bill, which is currently pending in the New Jersey Assembly, would broaden the definition of when employment “commences” in NJ Stat. Ann. 35:15-36, increasing the reach of where NJ’s workers’ compensation laws could apply. The specific focus is on parking lots and the ingress or egress of employees. Our workers’ compensation lawyer in NJ knows that this is a huge step to affording workers better coverage for medical bills and lost wages in a workplace accident as it will help resolve “when” employment starts.
Here at The Law Offices of Craig A. Altman, we have over 30 years of experience protecting the rights of individuals who suffered a work-related injury in New Jersey. This includes a proven track record of success during negotiations, hearings, appeals, and other legal proceedings relating to WC claims. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorney in NJ can review your case during a FREE consultation to evaluate what legal options you may have to ensure you and your family get the financial protections you deserve.
Current Laws Relating to When Employment “Starts”
Under the current application of the law, employment “starts” when an individual reports to work and “ends” when an individual leaves work. This period of starting and stopping is known as the “scope of employment.” An employee’s injuries are only considered “work-related” when the accident occurs within the scope of employment. This rule sounds simple, but the application of this rule can become tricky in certain instances.
Take, for example, when an individual leaves work and is injured in a parking lot. Presently, NJ workers’ compensation laws usually do not extend to accidents in parking areas that are not owned or controlled by the employer. This can be inequitable when an employer keeps workers late at night who fall in the dark or when an employer designates parking in areas further from the office to walk, increasing the chance to fall during the winter. It also partially insulates employers from ensuring safe ingress and egress for their employees.
This result was a product of Hersh v County of Morris, wherein the New Jersey Supreme Court found that the plaintiff’s injuries caused during her two-block walk to the designated parking lot did not fall within her scope of employment. Therefore, she was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Language of Senate Bill 771
The result in Hersh is now one of the primary goals of the proposed legislation to fix by amending the current law. In the proposed amendment, the bill provides the following:
“Employment shall also be deemed to commence, if an employer provides or designates a parking area for use by an employee, when an employee arrives at the parking area prior to reporting for work and shall terminate when an employee leaves the parking area at the end of a work period; provided that, if the site of the parking area is separate from the place of employment, an employee shall be deemed to be in the course of employment while the employee travels directly from the parking area to the place of employment prior to reporting for work and while the employee travels directly from the place of employment to the parking area at the end of a work period.”
This means that an employee is considered within the scope of employment when he or she reaches their vehicle in the parking lot—not at the start or end of working for the day. Thus, the employee is still within the scope of employment until he or she reaches the safety of their vehicle. Therefore, while a fall happening in a parking lot currently would not be covered by workers’ compensation, under the proposed legislation, it would be.
The proposed legislation also places a burden on employers to ensure employees have safe ingress and egress, while offering coverage for medical bills and lost wages when an employee is injured on their way to their vehicle. Our workers’ comp lawyer in NJ finds this to be very important for workers, especially considering the harsh winter seasons which pose a risk of slip and fall accidents due to snow and ice.
Injured in a Workplace Accident? Ask Our Workers’ Comp Attorney in NJ for Help
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a work-related accident, let us help guide you through the confusing WC claim process. While NJ law aims to protect workers and make this process easy, unfortunately, far too many insurance companies do not. After all, insurance is a business for many WC carriers. This means that they may take aggressive positions against your claim, often undervaluing the compensation you may be entitled to.
Do not let this happen to you. Call The Law Offices of Craig A. Altman for help. We offer FREE consultations and only get paid after you get paid. Schedule your consultation with our compassionate team today by dialing (856) 327-8899 or use our contact us box to send us a message here.