Work-Induced Heart Attacks
When you think of workers’ compensation, you probably think about people who have been injured on the job. That’s why many people who have suffered heart attacks on the job or as a result of working conditions don’t realize that they may have a workers’ compensation claim. But, workers’ compensation covers a wide range of injuries and illnesses that occur at work or are caused by on-the-job exposures. That includes some heart attacks.
Protection for employees who suffer work-related heart attacks is important because a heart attack can have a significant impact on the worker’s ability to earn a living. Recovery times after a heart attack vary. According to the American Heart Association, the typical heart attack sufferer can return to work between two weeks and three months after the incident. That’s a big range, and for some people, recovery time is even longer. And, of course, return-to-work will depend in part on the type of employment. Someone who has suffered a heart attack may have longer-term or even permanent limitations on the type of work he or she can do.
Workers’ compensation benefits can cover medical costs and provide replacement income during recovery and can assist a worker facing new limitations. But, people who have suffered heart attacks on the job or as a result of their work may face significant hurdles in getting benefits approved.
Work-Related Heart Attacks
The key question for someone hoping to pursue a workers’ compensation claim based on a heart attack is what caused the heart attack. While nearly anyone who suffers an injury such as a fall or sprain on the job is covered by worker’s compensation, simply having a heart attack while at work isn’t sufficient. The heart attack must have been work-related. So, someone who has been suffering from heart disease–even if undiagnosed–and simply happens to have a heart attack in the workplace generally won’t be entitled to benefits.
What is a Work-Related Heart Attack?
Of course, the analysis of a workers’ compensation claim depends on specific facts. There’s no quick chart to determine whether it’s likely that your heart attack will be deemed work-related. Here’s a general overview of some situations in which a person who suffers a heart attack might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits:
- The heart attack occurs while the employee is engaging in physical exertion such as heavy lifting, or very shortly after
- The heart attack occurs while or shortly after the employee is working in conditions that stress the body, such as extreme heat
- The worker has been exposed to chemicals or other hazardous materials known to cause heart disease
- The worker was subjected to extreme stress that triggered a heart attack
Establishing a Heart Attack Related Workers’ Comp Claim
It’s more difficult to demonstrate the cause of a heart attack than an injury like being struck by an object or getting an arm caught in a machine. Employers and workers’ compensation carriers often take advantage of this challenge to deny benefits. So, if you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim because you had a heart attack at work or due to working conditions, you must be prepared to fight.
The best weapon you can give yourself in that battle is an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney who is ready and willing to fight for your rights. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has been fighting for the rights of injured people and surviving family members for decades. At the Broderick Law Firm, we know how important it is for injured workers to fully understand their rights and options before making important decisions–in some cases, decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. That’s why we offer free, no-obligation consultations.
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