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Careful Where You Fall

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has expanded workers’ compensation coverage in parking lot injury cases. Before the change in the law went into effect on January 10, 2022, an employee’s injury in a parking lot was only compensable under workers’ compensation if his accident occurred in the employer-owned or controlled parking lot or where the employer directed the employee to park. The new law, which is an amendment to Section 36 of the NJ Workers Compensation Act, further extends employers’ liability to where an employer “provides” a parking area and the injury occurs in that parking area. Future claims will likely focus on the term “provides,” (e.g., is a leased lot deemed to be provided to the employee even though the employer does not own or control the lot?).

In addition, the amendment provides for liability for the employer if the employee is injured while walking from an offsite parking location directly to the place of employment. This is in direct contrast to (and supersedes) a 2014 New Jersey Supreme Court decision that an employee injured on a public street while walking from an off-site parking lot provided by the employer to the work location was not compensable (Hersch v. County of Morris, 217 N.J. 236).

It is unknown whether other states will follow the New Jersey Legislature’s lead in expanding employer liability in parking lot and travel-to-work-location workers’ compensation claims. If you have been hurt at work or if you have any questions about your rights under the NJ Workers Compensation Act, or if you are an employer who needs to understand how to protect your organization from these types of claims, contact the attorneys at Leonard Sciolla.

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