On appeal from the Supreme Court, whose opinion is reported in 118 N.J.L. 445.
For the appellant, Drewen & Nugent (John Drewen).
For the respondent, Edward Stover.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
LLOYD, J. This is a workmen's compensation case. The essential facts are few and not in dispute. The respondent was employed as a lead sorter in the factory of the appellant, and while passing along the sidewalk in front of the factory premises she was injured through falling on the ice that had collected there.
There were a number of entrances to the factory, at least two on the side where the accident occurred -- a small gate used only by persons on foot and another, a large entrance with double gates used by vehicles as well as pedestrians. The respondent, when she fell, was passing in front of the large gates intending to use the smaller entrance. The hour was seven-fifty in the morning, and work in the factory began at eight o'clock.
It was on these facts that the claim was rejected in the compensation bureau, the rejection affirmed by the Court of Common Pleas, and the judgment of affirmance reversed in the Supreme Court.
We do not see our way clear to follow the final ruling in the cause. The claim must come within the statute which in its contractual phase removes the parties in such case from many of the common law obligations of master and servant, substitutes therefor a contractual relation of its own, and provides compensation for an employe injured by "accident arising out of and in the course of employment." In this we think it failed.
The narrated facts clearly establish both an accident and an injury to the employe, but in no sense can it be said to have arisen out of and in the course of the employment, and this because the employment in the terms of the statute had not yet begun.
In seeking the proper construction of the statute, where is the boundary between employment and non-employment to be found if not in the facts of the present case. Is it when the employe is within a few feet of the place of employment, but still on the public highway in no way connected therewith, and not where the distance intervening is multiplied few or many times? Is it when one starts on the journey from home to factory? If not, at what point between does employment begin? There must come a time when the employe is on his own. At the moment of the accident the respondent was not in employment. The time and place were her own; she could proceed or turn back. She was in no sense in the service of the employer at the moment.
In so ruling we are not unmindful of our cases giving a liberal construction to the scope and purposes of the statute. On the other hand we are not at liberty either by addition or by interpretation ...