Did you suffer a heart attack or stroke at work? If so, you may be wondering if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including medical treatment and weekly income benefits. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The answer lies in the specifics facts to your accident. We would need to review your medical records and facts of your claim to make that determination; that is, was the “injury” caused by physical/overexertion, heat or workplace stress or contributable to some unusual or unexpected event and in the course and scope of employment?
In most cases, the insurance company will almost always deny your claim for benefits right from the start. They will obtain copies of your medical records and look for any evidence of other health conditions that could be linked to your “injury” such as a history of high blood pressure, obesity and/or high cholesterol.
Whether the heart attack or stroke could be attributed to your work might be better explained with the following examples.
One good example of when a heart attack may be compensable under workers’ compensation would be that of an employee with a “desk job” who worked on the first floor of a high-rise building. In this instance, there was a power outage and the elevators were out of service. The employee was told by their supervisor to go to up several flights of stairs to get some important documents. During the walk up the stairs, the employee began to breathe heavy and became overexerted. The employee began to experience chest pains and suffered a heart attack. Because the power outage and being required to use the stairs was not a “usual event” of the employee’s duties with the employer this “injury” could possibly be found compensable and covered by workers’ compensation even if the employer knew that the employee had a pre-existing heart condition.
Another example of when a heart attack may be compensable might be that of a bank teller who suffered a heart attack when an armed robber comes into the bank with a gun and pointed the gun at the teller. In this case the “injury” would likely be compensable because it is not in the normal duties of the teller to have a gun pointed at them.
In the alternative, if the bank teller were to suffer a heart attack while performing a normal transaction for a customer that would typically not be compensable because the teller was performing their normal duties of their employment and nothing out of the ordinary caused the teller to suffer the heart attack.
Bottom line, there must be some act or accident that is not within the “normal duties” of the employment that caused the heart attack or stroke and/or there must be a causal connection in the medical records linking the heart attack or stroke to the work environment.
If you have suffered a heart attack or stroke and think that it might be related to your employment, contact The Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera and let us put our expertise to work for you.