Heart Attack Workers’ Compensation Claims in Visalia

In California, both full-time and part-time workers are afforded benefits through the insurance system if they suffer a job-related injury or illness. These benefits cover many issues, from delivery drivers hurt in car accidents to executives who suffer mental health issues induced by stress. Injuries that worsen over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or repeated exposure to harmful chemicals, are also covered. The key is that your harm must have resulted from your job.

If you have markers for heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and suffer a heart attack on the job, you may be eligible for these benefits. However, heart attacks can be difficult to legally classify as work-related, especially without the guidance of a worker’s compensation lawyer. Contact our firm today to discuss your heart attack workers’ compensation claims in Visalia with a seasoned attorney.

How Workers’ Compensation Views Heart Attacks

The short answer to whether an employee with a pre-existing heart condition who suffers a heart attack at work is eligible for workers’ compensation is yes, with caveats. California case law sheds light on the subject in the 1974 case Lamb v. Workmen’s Comp. Appeals Bd., 11 Cal. 3d 274.

Lamb appealed the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) decision that pre-existing hypertension disqualified him from receiving benefits (including death benefits). The appeals court annulled the decision relying on four principles:

  • Although the employee must prove an injury is work-related, the workers’ compensation laws should be construed to favor an employee if there is doubt about a workplace injury with a pre-existing condition
  • All awards or decisions by the DWC must be based on substantial evidence and cannot ignore relevant facts that shed additional light on the evidence
  • The DWC must accept the evidence presented as true if it is not contradicted or impeached
  • If a compensable injury is determined by believable evidence, it should be given great weight and discarded only if overwhelming contrary evidence is introduced

The takeaway from Lamb is that if conditions of the job aggravate a pre-existing condition, benefits should be paid by apportioning the percentage of the heart attack between those elements.

A knowledgeable Visalia attorney experienced with worker’s compensation claims could explain the nuances of this valuable insurance when a heart attack happens.

Exceptions for Law Enforcement and Firefighters

There is a unique stress associated with law enforcement and firefighting activities. If these government employees suffer heart attacks, their California workers’ compensation benefits are in many cases assessed as 100 percent job related after a heart attack, even with a pre-existing condition. This means a firefighter who has dealt with hypertension will not be penalized for it when applying for workers’ compensation. If someone has further questions about whether this exception may apply in their specific heart attack case, they should contact a Visalia worker’s compensation attorney about their claim.

The Qualified Medical Examiner

Since the DWC will assign industrial causation for a heart attack by determining what portion was cause by work and what was caused by  pre-existing conditions, someone qualified must determine how blame will be apportioned. If the administrator and heart attack patient cannot agree, a qualified medical examiner (QME) will decide.

Either party can ask for a QME to step in. QMEs have special training to review workers’ compensation cases in their fields, and although the DWC pays them for this work, they are impartial. A Visalia workers’ compensation attorney could assess a heart attack patient’s situation to determine if a QME evaluation may be helpful for their claim.

Discuss Heart Attack Workers’ Compensation Claims in Visalia with an Attorney

California employers must provide their workers with insurance that will partially or fully cover lost wages if they are injured on the job. This applies to both full and part-time employees. Sometimes, it is not easy to determine how much stress or exertion contributes to a condition such as a heart attack if the employee already has heart disease.

Generally, a qualified physician will determine the percentage of industrial causation to assign to heart attacks. The percentage attributable to stress or exertion on the job is what workers’ compensation covers, unless you work in law enforcement or are a firefighter. If you have suffered a heart attack and believe your job caused or contributed to it, it is important to know that you do have legal options. Our experienced and multi-lingual attorneys are here to guide you from start to finish of your case. Contact our firm today to discuss your heart attack workers’ compensation claim in Visalia with a seasoned lawyer.