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Commuting injuries and workers' compensation benefits

New Jersey employees who are injured in workplace accidents or become sick after being exposed to toxic substances at work are usually eligible to file workers' compensation claims. However, some injuries that may appear to be work-related would not qualify for benefits under the workers' compensation program. Employees driving to or from their places of work would not be in their cars if it were not for their jobs, but injuries incurred in commuting accidents do not generally qualify for workers' compensation benefits under what is known as the "going and coming rule".

Not all vehicle travel is excluded under this rule, and workers who drive cars or trucks provided by their employers may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits if they are injured in an accident while commuting to or from work. Workers who use their personal vehicles would not usually qualify for benefits in this situation, but they would qualify if they were involved in an accident while driving between work sites. These exceptions to the going and coming rule have been used to provide benefits to employees such as traveling salespeople, truck drivers and route delivery workers.

Exceptions to the rule are also made for employees attending trade shows or conferences and workers sent on special missions. Trade show or conference attendees are covered by the workers' compensation program for the entire duration of their trips, and the special mission exception covers workers performing any duties that do not fall within their job descriptions such as running errands for their managers or supervisors.

The line separating a job-related injury from a non-job-related injury can sometimes be indistinct, and attorneys with workers' compensation experience may review the program's rules and exemptions before injured workers submit their claims. Attorneys could also advocate on behalf of workers when their employers claim that their injuries were not job-related.

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