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How much is a foot worth?

A woman who worked in a New Jersey casino was involved in a car accident as she was leaving work one night. A car struck her vehicle as she was turning onto the street from the Atlantic City casino's parking lot.

She was injured and applied for workers' compensation insurance benefits. He employer objected, claiming she was on a public street and, therefore, the accident was not work related and not subject to workers' compensation coverage.

Her first hearing, with an administrative law judge from the Division of Workers' Compensation agreed with her. The casino appealed to state court and this month, the appellate court again agreed that the worker should receive benefits from the workers' compensation insurance.

Workers' compensation is designed to ensure workers receive medical treatment after they have been injured in workplace related accidents, and protects employers from the expense of litigating questions of negligence and liability, in return for paying premiums for workers' compensation insurance.

The court noted that one foot of her vehicle was still on the casino's property, as the vehicle left the parking lot, and because of this, she was not considered to have left her place of employment.

For workers' compensation purposes, a worker is considered to "on the job" until they leave their employer's property. The woman's attorney pointed out that because the workers' compensation law is designed to protect workers, it should be interpreted liberally.

This interpretation helps prevent workers from being denied coverage in an arbitrary or capricious manner. Because the key question in the case was whether she had was still in the course of her employment, the fact that part of her vehicle was still on the casino's property meant she had never fully left the property.

Source: USA Today, "Casino dealer wins workers' comp fight by a foot," Jim Walsh, January 22, 2014

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