Is living in New Jersey Enough to Create Jurisdiction for a Workers' Compensation Claim?

Jurisdiction may be found under New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act only where

  1. the injury occurs in New Jersey, or
  2. New Jersey is the place of contract of hire, or
  3. the employee resides in New Jersey, and there are some employment contacts in New Jersey.

The following paragraphs shall discuss these three categories.

Place of accident.

New Jersey case law has established that if the injury occurred in New Jersey, despite the location of the place of employment or any other factor, that jurisdiction could be found under New Jersey’s Act. See Boyle v. G & K Trucking, 37 N.J. 104 (1962).

Place of hire.

Where the defense of independent contractor is raised, the location of hire New Jersey can be salient. However, even where the “contract of hire” occurs in New Jersey, case law and Professor Larson do not look approvingly on “contract of hire” as a sole basis for jurisdiction. See lengthy discussion of Professor Larson’s theories of extra-territorial contacts in Phillips v. Oneida Motor Freight, 394 A.2d 891, 893 (N.J. App. Div 1978). That panel approvingly cited the following:

Of the three original theories on extra-territoriality — tort, contract, and employment relation — the last is the most relevant to compensation theory and the least artificial. In this view, the existence of the employer-employee relation within the state gives the state an interest in controlling the incidents of that relation, one of which incidents is the right to receive and the obligation to pay compensation. [internal citations omitted]

Employment contacts.

The Court must consider if there are “employment contacts” in this State. For example, was the employee required to travel to New Jersey, provide services in New Jersey, or otherwise carry out the business of his employer in that state?

Where the accident did not occur in New Jersey, where there are no significant work-contacts with that State, and where the residence of the employee alone is the sole claim to jurisdiction, this New Jersey’s courts lacks jurisdiction under New Jersey’s Act.

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Greg Lois is the managing partner of LOIS LLC, a 19-attorney law firm dedicated to defending employers and carriers in New York and New Jersey workers' compensation claims. Greg is the author of a popular series of "Handbooks" on workers' compensation, and is the co-author of the 2016 Lexis-Nexis New Jersey Workers' Compensation Practice Guide. Greg can be reached at 201-880-7213 or glois@lois-llc.com