Choosing Where to File a Workers’ Comp Claim is Complicated When You Live, Work, and Get Injured Across Different States.

Deciding Where to File Your Workers' Comp Claim Across State Lines

If you live in one state, work for an employer based in another state, and are injured on the job in yet a third state, deciding where to bring a workers’ compensation claim can be very confusing and uncertain. The location where you file a claim must be a place that has jurisdiction over the matter. That means the courts of the state where you file your workers’ compensation claim must be able to exercise control over the defendant and require them to answer to the court. They must also be able to review the dispute and order a binding decision on the matter.

What gives the courts of a state the power to exercise jurisdiction over a workers’ compensation case? In a landmark case, Williams v. Port Authority, 175 N.J. 82 (N.J. 2003), the New Jersey court set forth six circumstances under which it can exercise jurisdiction in a workers’ compensation case. These circumstances are a guiding framework for individuals who have suffered a work-related injury and are unclear whether New Jersey is the right state to bring their claim.

Navigating Interconnected Jurisdictions in Employment Scenarios

The Northeast, and New Jersey in particular, is a very densely populated area with interconnected economic opportunities and communities. New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are all very close to each other and it is common for individuals to live in New Jersey and work in New York or live in Pennsylvania and work in New Jersey. Many businesses deliver goods and services throughout the area, requiring employees to travel to and between these states during their workday. However, the close proximity and interconnectedness of life in these states can give rise to legal questions and uncertainties in multiple areas like taxes and workers’ compensation claims,

For example, imagine the example of a sales representative who lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and works in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. While he is on the road in Morristown, NJ, to meet with a new prospective client, he gets into a car accident. The sales representative may know that he is entitled to workers’ compensation because he suffered injuries as a result to a work-related injury during work hours but he may be unclear whether he should file the claim in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.

Another example of a similar conundrum would be a New Jersey resident who is employed as a construction worker by a company in New York to work on a job in Connecticut. Suppose that he falls off of unstable scaffolding and severely injures his back. Would Connecticut, New York, and/or New Jersey have jurisdiction over his case?

To shed light on these hypothetical situations, it is crucial to examine the six circumstances set forth in Williams that provide valuable insight into the legal opinions available for injured workers in these types of cross-state employment scenarios.

Key Factors Influencing Jurisdiction in Workers’ Compensation Cases

In New Jersey, there are six different types of scenarios under which New Jersey courts will exercise jurisdiction over a workers’ compensation case. The first situation where New Jersey could exercise jurisdiction is if the petitioner, or the injured worker, is a New Jersey resident. Even if the accident that caused their injuries happened outside of New Jersey and/or the petitioners employer is not located in New Jersey, New Jersey will still be able to exercise jurisdiction over the matter because the employer will be found to have established enough minimum contacts in the state through hiring a New Jersey resident to be subject to jurisdiction in New Jersey.

Similarly, if the employer has its headquarters, principal place of business, or sufficient minimum contacts in New Jersey, so as to be determined to be “located” in New Jersey, then the court can also exercise jurisdiction over the matter. However, an important nuance to note here is that there must be a sufficient employment relationship between the petitioner and that location of the employer. In Catalano v. UPS, the court found that New Jersey did not have jurisdiction over the case because the petitioner lived and worked in New York. The few connections to New Jersey that his legal team pointed to, including an initial two-week training period in New Jersey, the petitioner’s classification inside UPS as being a part of the “Central Jersey District”, and being assigned to a New Jersey local in the UPS union, were not sufficient to establish an employment relationship of the petitioner with the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Jurisdictional Authority in Workers’ Comp

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New Jersey can also exercise jurisdiction over a workers’ compensation claim when the accident causing the injury happens in New Jersey. For example, if a Pennsylvania resident who works for a New York trucking company is making a delivery in New Jersey, where they slip on the group and suffer an injury while carrying a package in for delivery, New Jersey can exercise jurisdiction over the case.

Additional, though less clear, circumstances can include when the petitioner is hired in New Jersey or the parties agree to jurisdiction by New Jersey over workers’ compensation claims. These two factors, however, are generally considered as supplemental factors in conjunction with others.

Take Control of Your Workers’ Comp Claim and Contact Our Dedicated Team of Lawyers after a Work-Related Injury

Work-related accidents can be incredibly stressful, and many employees wait a very long time before ever seeing the just compensation they are entitled to if they receive it at all. The laws controlling workers’ compensation claims differ from state to state, and for individuals in a cross-state employment situation involving New Jersey, it may be advantageous to file your claim in New Jersey if that state has jurisdiction over it. Sometimes, jurisdiction is simple and straightforward, and other times, it is a legal puzzle to sort out.

Rather than going it alone, we invite you to book a complimentary consultation with our team of skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson, who can help you determine if New Jersey is the right place to file your claim for your work-related injury. We serve the entirety of Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, knowing the laws of both states inside and out. Let us serve your legal needs by contacting 609-528-2596 today.