Accident Crossing Busy Street To Work Site Is Compensable Where County Paid For Parking And Designated Parking Spot

In Hersh v. County of Morris, A-1442-10T4 (App. Div. July 24, 2012), the Appellate Division affirmed an award for claimant,Cheryl Hersh, who worked for Morris County. For the first two years she worked for the County beginning in 2002, the County paid for parking at a private lot located behind her work site at the Administration Building. Then the County assigned her free parking at a private garage on Cattano Avenue, two blocks from the Administration Building.

The County did not own or control the lot on Cattano Avenue. But it paid for 65 designated spots for its employees and gave petitioner a scan card for entrance to the garage and advised her to park in one of the 65 spots on the third floor. Petitioner was not senior enough to have a parking spot directly behind the Administration Building.

The petitioner was injured on January 29, 2010. She parked in the third floor lot and exited on Cattano Avenue and walked one block to Washington Street, which she had to cross to get to the Court Street entrance to the Administration Building. While crossing Washington Street she was hit by a car and suffered serious injuries.

The County denied her workers’ compensation claim contending that she had not arrived at a place owned or controlled by the employer at the time of her injury. The Judge of Compensation ruled for petitioner, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The court relied on case law that stands for the proposition that if an employer can control where an employee parks, the employee is covered from the point of arrival at that location. Livingstone v. Abraham & Strauss, 111 N.J. 89 (1988). The Court also relied on Bradley v. State of New Jersey, 344 N.J. Super. 568 (App.Div. 2001) which involved similar facts (the State provided free parking for its employees at a County-owned parking lot where the petitioner was injured).

This case addresses a fairly common situation. If the employer pays for parking off site for an employee and designates an area to park, the employee will be deemed to have arrived at work for purposes of workers’ compensation when he or she gets to the approved parking location.

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