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Sager v. O.A. Peterson Construction Co.

A-6724-01T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2003) (Unpublished)

WORKERS COMPENSATION—Going outside the workplace for lunch, even with others, and even from a construction site, is a personal errand and injuries occurring during such a trip are not covered by workers compensation insurance.

An employee filed a worker’s compensation claim for injuries sustained when he and his fellow construction workers were involved in an automobile accident while returning to the job site after lunch. The Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s determination that the injury occurred during the course of his employment and that he was entitled to worker’s compensation. It found that the employee was not entitled to worker’s compensation because he failed to meet the requirements of the “special mission” exception to the “coming and going rule.” The “coming and going rule” eliminates an employer’s responsibility for accidents that take place in areas outside the employer’s control. Under the “special mission” exception, the injury is compensable if the employee was required by his employer to be away from the job site and the employee was engaged in the direct performance of his duties. In this case, the Court found that the employee was injured in a car accident on the way back from a lunch break. There was no obligation for him to leave the job site nor was he performing his job when he was injured. The injury occurred while he was involved in a personal matter unrelated to his employment. Therefore, he was not entitled to worker’s compensation.

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