Generally, we think of workplace injuries as distinct events giving rise to distinct injuries. A machine operator may have caught his hand in a pipe bending machine; a cook may have burned his hand with cooking oil; a nurse might have hurt her back lifting a patient; a van driver may have struck her head when rear-ended on the highway. There are other categories of injuries, though, that may not be as obvious despite arising from a work event or series of events.This Job is Going to Give me a Heart Attack!
We may joke that events on the job are stressing us out, but sometimes they actually do. On one hand, a heart attack may be brought on by heavy lifting. On the other hand, a heart attack may have been triggered by several stressful events all culminating into a straw that breaks the camel’s back. Either way, Workers Compensation benefits should cover the claim.
Similarly, many jobs are intentionally stressful. With ever increasing workloads and deadlines that approach faster and faster, employers intentionally try to get you to do as much work as possible for the same amount of compensation. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to care that a long-term period of stress may eventually be followed by a stroke.
The problem arising in all of these examples is one of causation, i.e. proving that the cause of the medical condition was within the “scope and course of employment”. The first example, where heavy exertion appears to trigger a heart attack, presents a fairly simple looking case of cause and effect, while the other scenarios seem less obvious.Causation Always Presents a Problem
Invariably, the workers comp insurance company will defend a claim for benefits on the basis that the job did not cause the event no matter how obvious you think it is. An insurer has a lot of incentive to fight the claim because injuries in the category of heart attack can have a very serious and long-lasting effect. Additionally, there are many factors that cause such injuries, and the occurrence at any specific moment may, in fact, be coincidental. These cases generally become battles of the experts, as both employee and insurance company produce medical opinions which directly conflict.Background and History are Huge
An experienced attorney will carefully go through the employee’s medical history as well as the history of events that have occurred on the job. It is important to be able to present to a doctor all of the potential stressors that may have caused a physical injury. It’s also important to minimize aspects of ordinary life that provide an alternative explanation that the insurance company will rely on.
While these cases are rarely straightforward, the unfortunate consequences of a heart attack or a stroke are severe and long-lasting. An attorney well versed in workers compensation law can often build a compelling case when an initial view of events makes a case appear much less than obvious. Many times these can be resolved by a lump sum settlement even when the chances of fully prevailing on the claim are not optimal.We Have the Experience
The attorneys at Marcotte Law Firm have dealt with multiple workers compensation cases involving stroke and heart attacks. We know what to look for, we know how to build the case, we know how to convert it to compensation.
If you or a loved one has had a stroke, heart attack, or other stress related injury on the job, call the Workers Compensation Lawyers at Marcotte Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation.