Employers are now liable for injuries that occur to their employees in all employer provided parking lots. On January 10, 2022, Governor Murphy signed into law Bill S771, which states:
Employment shall also be deemed to commence, if an employer provides or designates a parking area for use by an employee, when an employee arrives at the parking area prior to reporting for work and shall terminate when an employee leaves the parking area at the end of a work period; provided that, if the site of the parking area is separate from the place of employment, an employee shall be deemed to be in the course of employment while the employee travels directly from the parking area to the place of employment prior to reporting for work and while the employee travels directly from the place of employment to the parking area at the end of a work period.
Prior to the passage of S771, parking lot injuries were typically not compensable unless the employer owned the parking lot or directed the employee to park in a specific location. In the 2014 Supreme Court case, Hersh vs. County of Morris, 217 NJ 236 (214), the employer leased sixty-five spaces in a private, offsite garage. When Hersh was injured after parking her car there, the New Jersey Supreme Court held the injury was not compensable because the employer did not own or control the parking garage. Were the case decided today, the fact that the employer “provided” the leased spaces may be enough to find the injury compensable.
Eight days after the passage of S771, the New Jersey State Supreme Court decided Laspley vs. Township of Sparta, (A-68/69-20), and held that injuries occurring in an employer owned parking lot are compensable regardless of whether the employee was directed to park there. Laspley was a Sparta Township librarian. She was injured in a public parking lot across the street from the library, which happened to be owned and maintained by Sparta Township. Interestingly, it was Laspley who disputed compensability so that she could pursue a civil lawsuit. She argued that the injury was not work related because the Township did not exercise any control over where she parked or how she entered/existed the parking lot. The Supreme Court held that the Township’s control of the lot and its proximity to the library were sufficient to find compensability. The Supreme Court did not consider S771 at the time of its Decision; however, the end result would have been the same.
It is clear that the new law erodes the Going and Coming Rule, and employers and their insurance carriers should expect an increase in claims by employees injured while commuting to and from offsite parking lots. It is unclear how broadly the Courts will define “employer provided” parking, and whether employers will have liability for accidents that occur in shared multi-tenant parking lots. Compensability may hinge on the language in the employer’s lease agreement. GRSLBG&B will you keep you apprised as the caselaw and practice evolves on this issue.
If you have a question about the new law, you can directly reach any member of the Firm’s Workers Compensation Department below:
 Samantha E. Hahn, Esq. is a Shareholder in GRSLBG&B’s Workers’ Compensation Department. She defends employers, insurers, and third-party administrators against workers’ compensation claims in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Samantha can be reached at SHahn@grsl.com.
 Patrick J. Nemes, Esq. is an Associate in GRSLBG&B’s Workers’ Compensation Department. He defends employers, insurers, and third-party administrators against workers’ compensation claims in New Jersey. Patrick can be reached at PNemes@grsl.com