Arising Out of and In the Course of Employment
A staple of workers’ compensation jargon, this term serves as a key criterion for determining eligibility for benefits. It underscores the idea that for an injury or illness to be compensable, it must both originate from and occur during the course of one’s job responsibilities.
Arising Out Of
An injury or illness is considered to “arise out of” employment when there’s a direct causal connection between the injury and the conditions under which the work is performed (ie. the work environment). This pertains to the direct link between the injury and the tasks, circumstances, or environment of the job. For instance, a construction worker’s back injury from lifting heavy materials correlates to the nature of their job.
In the Course Of
This term refers to the timing, location, and circumstances under which the injury occurred. To be “in the course of” employment, the injury must have occurred during the worker’s job timeframe, at a place where the worker might reasonably be, and while the worker is either performing their duties or engaged in a related activity. An example could be an office worker slipping in the company restroom; such an incident would likely be covered, as using the restroom is a reasonable activity during work hours.
For a workers’ compensation claim in New Jersey, the injured worker bears the responsibility of proving that their injury both “arose out of” and occurred “in the course of” their employment. This dual criterion ensures a meticulous examination of workplace injuries, covering both the nature and the circumstances of the injury or illness.
This term sets a boundary, ensuring that only work-related injuries are eligible for compensation. For instance, if an employee is injured during their lunch break but off the employer’s premises and not on a job-related task, it might not qualify.
While the principle seems straightforward, its application can be complex. Situations like company-sponsored events, travel for work, or injuries in company parking lots might still fall under this category, depending on specific circumstances and jurisdictional rules.
Consider Susan, a sales representative, who injured her ankle while attending a mandatory training session organized by her company at an off-site location. Though the injury didn’t occur at her regular workplace, it arose out of and in the course of her employment, making her eligible for workers’ compensation.
The determination of arising out and in the course of employment is fact sensitive. As such, Judges in New Jersey can differ in the application of the principles to a particular set of facts. Sager v. OA Peterson Construction is an example of Courts struggling with whether an employee injured while returning from an off-worksite dinner was sufficiently directed by his supervisor to be a compensable injury.