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New Jersey seeks to expand protections to workers

Workers’ compensation provides much-needed benefits for injured workers — but the coverage is only for injuries that occur within the scope of your employment.

In practical terms, that has generally meant that your coverage begins when you get to work at the beginning of your day and ends when you leave at the end of your shift.

That may change — in New Jersey, at least.

Senate Bill 771 (S.B. 771) would extend protections to the parking lot and beyond

For the most part, if your employer owns and controls the parking lot outside your work building, you would be due workers’ compensation if you  got injured on a slip-an- fall on ice as you walked back to your car after your shift.

But what happens if the parking lot or garage your employer provides happens to be a block away from your office, requiring you to navigate ice-covered sidewalks or narrow streets to get back and forth to the office or warehouse?

If you slip, fall and injure yourself outside of the parking deck or get hit by an errant driver on your way to the garage, workers’ compensation won’t cover you — even though you really have no choice but to park there.

S.B. 771 would change that. Not only would it make an employer specifically responsible for your safety in their designated parking area, it would extend workers’ compensation coverage to areas between the employer’s door and the designated parking areas — even those not directly under the employer’s control.

This is a much fairer approach to the traditional limitations on workers’ compensation, especially since many employees in large companies have no real choice about where to park.

If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, don’t take a denial of your claim at face value. You can — and should — fight back.