Can a Heart Attack Actually be a Work-Related Injury?
Be aware. Not all heart attacks are actually considered work-related injuries. Obviously, some can be causally related. However, it’s not as simple as breaking your leg on the job. Learn why.
A recent New Jersey case deals with the issue of cardiac arrest due to work activity. Bert Hayes, Jr. was employed as a laborer for Hall Construction Company. In November of 2010, Bert was part of a crew doing work at a South Jersey courthouse.
The construction project was in the final stages. Bert and a co-worker were assigned cleanup duties. They were expected to pick up the trash and construction debris and throw it into 30-40 gallon trash bags. Afterwards, the two workers would drag the bags downstairs and haul them outside. Bert claimed they were instructed not to use the elevators.
The problem came somewhere between the 20th to 25th trips downstairs. Bert suddenly felt short of breath. His arms started to tingle. Just before lunchbreak, Bert began feeling excruciating chest pain. A work supervisor noticed Bert was in pain and stated he would call an ambulance. Bert did not remember the conversation that way. Instead, he drove himself to the hospital. Test results revealed that Bert had suffered a heart attack.
Bert made a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. After all it seemed apparent that the heavy workload had caused him to suffer a heart attack. Both the experts retained by his lawyer and the insurance company agreed that Bert’s heart attack was likely due to the extent of his labor.
It was also important to prove that Bert’s efforts were more intense than his normal physical activities. The court agreed that Bert had produced evidence to suggest that he worked harder that day than any regular leisure activities. Bert was able to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
Heart Attacks at Work: When are they Compensable?
According to the law, not all people who have heart attacks at work are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. After all, it may just be a matter of circumstances that causes someone to have a heart attack on the job, without any extraordinary efforts. In order to receive compensation for this type of injury, the following criteria must be met:
- There must be proof that the injury or death occurred as a result of some substantial condition, event or happening
- The work efforts must be viewed as in excess of the claimant’s daily routine
- A medical expert should be able to correlate the work duties with the heart attack
Heart attacks are not the only injuries that must meet these standards. Strokes follow the same logic according to the law. Medical records and risk factors are also reviewed.
If you or a loved one has a suffered a heart attack or stroke at work, you need to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo to review the specifics of your case.