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New Jersey Appellate Court Rules Off-Premises Injury Compensable


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11/17/2008
Brent Adams
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According to a recent ruling by an appellate court in New Jersey, a computer technician who was struck by a vehicle while crossing a street in order to buy cigarettes and snacks is entitled to receive medical and temporary disability benefits from workers’ compensation for the personal injuries he sustained.

In 2003, Carlos Cruz was driving a company van to meet with a client when he parked across the street from a delicatessen in order to take “his usual morning break,” court records for the case of Carlos Cruz v. Micros Retail Systems Inc. said.

The deli was approximately five blocks off of the direct route from his employer’s office, where Cruz’s trip began, to the site of the client. According to court records, while he was crossing the street to reach the deli, he was struck by a vehicle.

Micros denied that Cruz’s injuries were sustained within the scope of his employment, and a witness testified that it was company policy for employees to go directly to their work sites.

However, it was ruled by a worker’s comp judge that off-premises employees enjoy the same ability to deal with basic needs as on-premises employees, like coffee breaks and lunch. The judge found that his stop was a minor deviation from his mission on the behalf of his employer. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division agreed with the judge’s ruling.

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