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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Premises Rule Extends Compensability to Leaving a Parking lot

A NJ Appellate Court ruled that an employee who is injured in a motor vehicle accident that occurs while leaving an employer's parking lot is entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

"The circumstances of the present case plainly reveal that
Burdette never fully left her employer's premises. Although her
vehicle was in the midst of navigating a left turn onto a public
thoroughfare, the exact spot where Burdette suffered injuries
was neither remote from, nor unconnected to, her work premises.

We reject Harrah's ultra-rigid approach that focuses only on the
colliding vehicles' point of impact and the front seat location
of Burdette in her Explorer. Instead, applying common sense and
the policies inherent in the Act, we subscribe to the judge of
compensation's viewpoint that the injuries suffered here were a
result of Burdette's firm attachment to her place of employment,
albeit while on her way home. The fact that the public also
used the northwest travel lanes of MGM Mirage Boulevard does not
change the result. The inextricable connection between Harrah's
premises and the collision would render a parting of the
accidental injuries from compensability an unjust result.

"The judge of compensation's reliance upon Livingstone to
support his holding that parking lots owned, maintained, or
provided by employers were appropriately considered part of the
employer's premises is unassailable because the Court
acknowledged the Legislature's intent in framing the premises
rule's contours. Livingstone, supra, 111 N.J. at 102. Harrah's
contention that Livingstone sought to limit 'judicially-created
exceptions to the general noncompensability of off-premises
accidents . . . .' is correct. Livingstone, supra, 111 N.J. at 
103. However, this argument is misplaced because the judge of
compensation clearly relied on the case for its general
proposition that parking lots either owned, maintained, or
operated by employers are properly considered part of the
employer's premises.

DOCKET NO. A-4797-12T1 Decided January 17, 2013.

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