Heart Attacks and Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program paid for by employers that covers injuries and illnesses caused by working conditions. Although states may differ, all programs provide medical treatment and disability payments while recuperating. In addition, depending on the extent of the injury, if it has caused serious and permanent impairment or restrictions, then an injured worker can be paid a settlement of financial support based on the severity of the disability. If the employer does not have alternative or modified work available, and the injury prevents a worker from being able to return to their original job, some states provide vocational rehabilitation to train the injured worker for new employment.
Cumulative Trauma Injuries
When most people think of workers’ compensation, they think about someone who experiences an injury that causes them to miss work. This is not always the case. It is quite common for employees to sustain workplace injuries or occupational illnesses over time. These are often referred to as cumulative trauma injuries. To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits for these types of injuries, a worker must establish that the injury originated during the course of their employment.
Coverage for Heart Attacks
An employee experiencing a heart attack at work may be entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The issue is whether the condition is work-related. The difficulty in proving a case will depend on how closely connected the work is to the injury. There must be a strong enough connection to establish that the work caused the injury.
The nation’s work force is aging rapidly and the issue of qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits after a heart attack is likely to become more prominent. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that out of 220,000 reported heart attacks each year, about 10,000 occur at work.
States Differ in Determining Eligibility
Qualifying for workers’ compensation for heart attacks, high blood pressure, and lung cancer requires strong medical evidence of the connection between the work and the illness. In some states, to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits after a heart attack, the worker must have been exposed to an unusual or extraordinary physical exertion. A causal connection between that exertion and the heart attack must exist. Other states are more lenient and allow a worker to qualify for benefits after a heart attack if the working conditions caused or contributed to the attack. In addition, it is sometimes possible to claim workers’ compensation for aggravating an existing heart condition if the work conditions substantially contributed to the heart attack.
Evaluating Non-Work-Related Factors
Part of determining whether a heart attack is work-related will involve examining other factors that could have contributed to causing the heart attack. Lifestyle issues, such as whether the worker has a poor diet, is out of shape and/or overweight, smokes, or is in deteriorating physical health, can be significant contributing factors. To prevail in a workers’ compensation case when these factors are at play, a worker would need to establish that the other factors did not contribute more to the heart attack than the work event.
Protecting Workers Rights to Workers’ Compensation
To qualify for benefits, a worker must inform their employer once they become aware that they have a condition they consider to be work-related. A delay in informing the employer could jeopardize access to benefits.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Help Workers Who Suffer from Workplace Injuries
If you were injured at work, contact one of our experienced Cherry Hill workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP today. We offer comprehensive support when evaluating your case, gathering relevant evidence, and analyzing approaches to recover the maximum amount of compensation to which you may be entitled. Call us at 856-761-3773 or complete an online form to arrange a free initial consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including the City of Camden.