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.

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Coronavirus COVID-19 UPDATE:
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Coronavirus COVID-19 UPDATE:

Please be advised that in accordance with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107, which imposed strict limitations on the operations of "brick-and-mortar" businesses and required telecommuting to the greatest extent possible, all N.J. workers’ compensation courts will continue to be closed to the public and to non-essential court personnel until April 13, 2020.

In response to overwhelming requests from the Workers’ Compensation Bar to hold non-emergent matters electronically or by teleconference, as of April 6, 2020, the following Workers’ Compensation Judges shall be designated by the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the N.J. Division of Workers’ Compensation as essential personnel and shall report to their home vicinages for the purpose of hearing as many Workers’ Compensation matters as possible by telephonic conferencing, including all emergent matters and the following non-emergent matters, pre-trial conferences, general motions for medical and temporary benefits, and settlements by affidavit:

Hon. Audrey Kernan, S.J., Atlantic City WC Courthouse
Hon. Arthur Marchand, A.S.J., Bridgeton WC Courthouse
Hon. Ingrid French, A.S.J., Camden WC Courthouse
Hon. Lionel Simon III, A.S.J., Freehold WC Courthouse
Hon. Diana Ferriero, S.J., Hackensack WC Courthouse
Hon. Jill Fader, S.J., Jersey City WC Courthouse
Hon. Glenn Kaplan, S.J., Lebanon WC Courthouse
Hon. Michael Luther, S.J., Mt. Arlington WC Courthouse
Hon. George Geist, S.J., Mt. Holly WC Courthouse
Hon. Ashley Hutchinson, A.S.J., New Brunswick WC Courthouse
Hon. Philip Tornetta, A.S.J., Newark WC Courthouse
Hon. William Roca, S.J., Paterson WC Courthouse
Hon. Maria Del Valle Koch, S.J., Plainfield WC Courthouse
Hon. Eugene Mulvaney, S.J., Toms River WC Courthouse
Hon. David Puma, S.J., Trenton WC Courthouse

The Division’s plan is to limit physical interactions in our workers’ compensation courts to the greatest extent possible and shift to the use of telephone conferencing, and if possible video conferencing for judges, attorneys, and litigants. There will be no in-person Workers’ Compensation Court proceedings (except for extremely limited emergent matters and certain ongoing motions for medical and temporary benefits and trials in which case social distancing will be enforced). Court offices will remain closed for in-person submissions. Filings will continue to be accepted electronically through COURTS On-line.

The N.J. Division of Workers’ Compensation’s number one goal is to limit the exposure and spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus to court personnel, attorneys and their staff, litigants, witnesses, and members of the public at large.

Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP also continues to closely monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and its impact on our local community and the world at large. In accordance with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107, our office is closed and the members of the firm continue to work remotely. As such, the members of the firm may have limited access to information during this time. We continue to appreciate your understanding. We encourage our current clients, new clients, and fellow members of the bar to contact us via e-mail as that remains the best form of communication. All attorneys and paralegals have access to e-mail and case information. We have designated essential personnel to report to our office for the purpose of handling emergent matters only and to complete essential administrative tasks. Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP remains committed to complying with all health and governmental regulations. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those most affected by this situation.