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Can workers receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured while taking a coffee break?

In New Jersey, workers are generally qualified to receive workers’ compensation benefits if their injury occurred during the course of employment. Thus, workers who are injured during their commute to or from work are usually ineligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

However, an employee who is injured upon leaving the office to purchase a cup of coffee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In Cooper v. Barnickle, a New Jersey worker suffered an injury while en route from his job to buy a cup of coffee. The coffee shop was five miles from his workplace, and the court held that he was eligible to receive workers’ compensation because a coffee break constituted a minor deviation from his job responsibilities.

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