What “Workplace Accident” Really Means

Workplace danger comes in many forms. For one New Jersey worker, it was a serious lab accident. This employee worked under contract for Picatinny Arsenal in the Energetic and Organic Materials Laboratory. But one morning, a workplace mishap turned the lab into a danger zone. Picatinny Fire and Emergency services rushed to the site of the accident, and the injured employee was taken to St. Clare’s Hospital. Luckily, this Picatinny Arsenal employee is in stable condition and the incident is likely covered by workers’ compensation. However, workers’ comp claims are not always so black and white.

Under New Jersey law, a workers’ compensation claim must result from an incident “arising out of and in the course of employment.” Therefore, an injury resulting from a personal risk unrelated to employment is not coverable. This includes injuries due to intoxication and intentionally self-inflicted harm.

Generally, workers’ compensation applies at the workplace. However, geographic scope may expand in certain situations. While the standard commute is not coverable, paid travel time is subject to workers compensation. Further, workers’ compensation covers special missions. A special mission is when a worker is outside the conventional workplace in order to perform employment duties. This could range from an employment seminar to a company picnic.

Workers’ compensation also applies to certain injuries occurring outside the realm of standard employment duties. If the activity is directed by the employer, an injury during this time is coverable. It is always the employer’s prerogative to expand the scope of employment duties. Further, workers’ compensation covers injuries during minor deviations from work duties. This includes lunch, cigarette breaks or using the bathroom.

Examples of situations covered by workers’ compensation include:

  • A worker injured while driving his employer’s truck on a short trip to get coffee
  • A worker injured in a car accident driving to or from an offsite meeting
  • A foreman injured by a former co-employee at a bar up to nine days after the foreman fired the co-employee
  • An employee shot at the workplace by a former boyfriend of her co-employee

Workers’ compensation is a complicated legal field. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you need an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney. Contact Shebell & Shebell to discuss the facts of your case.

Practice Areas of Shebell & Shebell LLC – Personal Injury Lawyers