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Heart Attack at Work? What Happens as Far as Benefits?
You are at work just like any other day. You put in most of your shift like you always do when the unthinkable happens; you have a heart attack. Once you are stabilized you have many questions. The bottom line is that you are uncertain what will happen as far as benefits.
Even it’s not the first one, a heart attack is a frightening event. Many say that it’s as if their life literally flashes before their eyes. Meanwhile, there may be some confusion when a cardiovascular event occurs at work. Truth be told, determining the events that led to the heart attack are crucial. Were you in the course of your employment? Or, was it just pure happenstance?
Your concerns about how your employer will treat your heart attack are valid. Can you make a worker’s compensation claim to cover the medical bills? What if it’s not you that suffered the cardiovascular event? If a loved one passes at work, are you entitled to dependency benefits? And, if you’ve had a prior heart attack, you may be worried that your claim will be denied.
It goes without saying those questions are important. Unfortunately, the answer to most of them is that “it depends.” It is easy to assume that a heart attack that occurs at work is related to your job. In many cases, you were exerting yourself on behalf of your employer at the exact time you suffered the attack. Be that as it may, New Jersey law has a test to determine if a heart attack is work-related or not.
When is a Heart Attack at Work Compensable?
As we have discussed before, a heart attack that occurs on the job may be covered by worker’s compensation. To determine if a heart attack was work-related the courts will use a three-part test:
- 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
Does a Prior Heart Attack Make Me Ineligible for Compensation?
Under current New Jersey law, a prior medical condition such as a heart attack won’t automatically exclude you from worker’s compensation coverage. In the words of the court, each employer “takes the employee as he is, with no standard of health required.” It sounds like a prior heart attack would be a non-factor, right? Not so fast.
New Jersey Statute 34:15-12(d) states that if an employer can prove any of the worker’s loss of heart function was due to a prior incident the employer is given credit for that amount. In other words, while a previous heart attack won’t prevent you from receiving benefits, the amount of permanent disability you’re entitled to can be lowered if your employer can show your prior heart attack was responsible for any of your current health issues.
Did You Suffer a Heart Attack at Work?
Regardless of your previous medical history, your heart attack may be compensable under New Jersey worker’s compensation law. If you or a loved one suffered a heart attack at work, it is imperative that you seek an attorney immediately. An attorney with experience in worker’s compensation law will fight to ensure your condition receives fair compensation. For a complimentary consultation Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo today.