WORKER’S COMPENSATION BENEFITS WHILE AT DINNER?

An interesting legal question was recently decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court involving an auto accident that took place in New York on September 11, 2001. While we all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001, another accident also took place on this day in New York. On this fateful day, A New Jersey contractor was performing work on a job site on Long Island. Because of the terrorist incident, most bridges and tunnels were closed. This prevented employees who were working at this jobsite from returning to their homes in New Jersey. Therefore, a supervisor instructed a group of his employees to leave the construction site, go for an early dinner, and then return to the construction site to continue working.

A van filled with employees left for the early dinner and while on the way back to the jobsite from a diner, the van was involved in a head on collision, seriously injuring one of the van’s occupants. The Supreme Court of New Jersey had to determine if the injured employee was injured in the course of his employment and thus entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.

Critical to this case is the fact that the employees were directed by the on-site supervisor of the project to leave the work area for dinner. Also critical is the fact that the supervisor directed the employees to return to work following dinner at which time they would be paid overtime. Although accidents such as these, where the employee is not engaged in the direct performance of his or her job duties, typically are not compensable, the Supreme Court awarded worker’s compensation benefits to this employee because this employee was following his direct supervisor’s orders and the job day was not complete.

If you have been injured at work, or if you have been injured during the work day but not at work, you still may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. These cases are very fact specific and every fact pattern is different. Contact an attorney at the Princeton, New Jersey worker’s compensation law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein to discuss the specific details of your case. The Princeton, New Jersey worker’s compensation law firm of Lependorf & Silverstein can answer your questions and advise you of your legal rights. Call for a free consultation regarding your rights today!