If you sustain an injury in an automobile collision while performing a job-related task in New Jersey, you are usually eligible for workers’ compensation, even if you are not driving a company vehicle.
Yet, it is not always a black-and-white issue, mainly when your accident happened during your commute or after hours. According to FindLaw, although you might consider commuting to be work-related, the ‘going and coming’ rule exempts daily travel from home to a job from workers’ compensation claims. However, there are circumstances in which this rule may not apply:
Traveling between job locations
Your everyday duties may take you beyond one central workplace. This could apply if you are, for example, an on-site repair technician or a district manager that oversees several locations. In this case, the time you spend traveling from one place to another is job-related and thus covered by workers’ compensation.
Driving by job definition
If you spend your entire shift in a vehicle, like a truck driver or law enforcement officer, then your car or truck could serve as your “workplace” and workers’ compensation should cover any injury that occurs during your duties. It may complicate the situation if you are a traveling salesperson, for instance, and drive directly from your home in your personal car to all of your appointments. Some may consider the first leg to be a commute; some might argue that it is work-related.
Employer-assigned errands or special events
When your employer assigns you a “special mission,” be it before, during or after your shift, workers’ compensation rules usually classify it as job-related. Additionally, it does not usually matter if your boss asks you to pick up office supplies or his or her child from daycare. Furthermore, when you attend a work-related function outside of regular working hours like a company party or gathering, you could receive workers’ compensation for an injury received during the event.
If you travel out of town to do your work, the entire time you are away from home typically falls under job-related jurisdiction. Therefore, your drive from your home to the airport may or may not qualify for a workers’ compensation claim, but once you are on the airplane, generally speaking, you are “on-the-job.”