A worker who was hit by a vehicle while walking into her office from an employer-paid parking lot cannot receive workers compensation for her injuries, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
Cheryl Hersh worked as a senior clerk for the Morris County, N.J., Board of Elections and parked her car in a private garage where the county government rented 65 parking spaces for employees, court records show. The county instructed Ms. Hersh on where to park in the garage, which was located about two blocks from Ms. Hersh's office.
In January 2010, Ms. Hersh parked her car in the private garage and was hit by a vehicle that ran a red light while she was crossing the street between the garage and her office, records show. She suffered “significant injuries” from the accident.
Ms. Hersh filed for workers comp benefits, and a New Jersey workers comp judge ruled that her injuries were compensable under the state's workers comp law, according to court records. The judge found that parking lots provided for employee use are part of an employer's premises, and therefore Ms. Hersh's injuries happened in the course of her employment. A New Jersey appellate court upheld that ruling.
However, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously reversed Ms. Hersh's benefit award Tuesday in Cheryl Hersh v. County of Morris. The high court found that Morris County did not control the private garage's entrance and exit points, nor the public street where Ms. Hersh was struck, and did not expose her to any “special or additional hazards” by having her park in the garage.
“The lot was not owned or maintained by the county,” the ruling reads. “The county only rented a small portion of the spots in the lot. The county derived no direct business interest from paying for employees to park in the (garage). Most importantly, the accident occurred on a public street not under the control of the county.”