It’s a classic conundrum: If an employee is injured walking to or from their car before or after work, is the injury eligible for workers’ comp?
Emily Manuel worked as a nurse at Jersey City Medical Center/RWJ Barnabas Health (RWJ).
On Dec. 30, 2015, Manuel finished her shift and was crossing the street to get to the lot where she parked her car when she was struck by a another vehicle and thrown several feet. She suffered hip and pelvic fractures, a concussion and other injuries.
RWJ offered parking for employees in the lot where Manuel had parked. The lot is across the street from the hospital and is owned and managed by another company, Assured Resource Management (Assured).
RWJ rented 158 spaces in the 450-space lot from Assured for $13,000 monthly. RWJ provided an optional shuttle to transport its employees from the lot to the hospital’s entrance. Employees who didn’t use the shuttle could cross the street using a public crosswalk. RWJ didn’t control the path from the lot to the hospital.
Hospital employees could also park elsewhere.
A judge of compensation found Manuel’s injury wasn’t compensable. The judge noted Manuel was injured on a public street that RWJ didn’t control. Also, RWJ provided an alternate means to travel between the lot and hospital (the shuttle).
Manuel appealed to a New Jersey court.
In New Jersey’s workers’ comp law, the premises rule says “Employment shall be deemed to commence when an employee arrives at the employer’s place of employment to report for work and shall terminate when the employee leaves the employer’s place of employment, excluding areas not under the control of the employer.”
In Manuel’s case, the state superior court noted the two most important questions were:
- Where did the injury take place?
- Did the employer have control of the property on which the injury occurred?
Manuel was injured on a public street that RWJ didn’t control. Therefore, the court upheld the compensation judge’s opinion: Manuel wouldn’t get workers’ comp benefits for her injuries.
(Emily Manuel v. RWJ Barnabas Health, Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Div., No. A-0270-18TI, 10/16/19)