Under Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws, benefits are available to make up for lost wages and pay for medical care for any work-related injury. This is as true for heart attacks as it is for broken bones.
In fact, pursuing a heart attack claim is not much different from pursuing a claim for any other injury. As with any workers’ compensation claim, a doctor’s opinion that the injury is work-related is essential to proving the case.
Types of Work-Related Heart Attacks
Under Massachusetts laws, a “work-related injury” is an injury caused by an aspect of employment.
Typically, there are four categories of work-related heart attacks for which workers’ compensation benefits may be available.
Heart Attacks Caused by Environmental Factors
First, on occasion, environmental aspects of the workplace can cause cardio-vascular deterioration that eventually leads to a heart attack.
For example, exposure to certain hazardous chemicals may result in respiratory disease. Respiratory disease, in turn, places extra strain on the heart. This extra strain can eventually result in a heart attack.
Additionally, exposure to heat can significantly increase the likelihood of a heart attack. This is true even in otherwise healthy individuals.
Heart Attacks Caused by Physical Work Activity
Second, physical work activity, usually, but not necessarily, of heavy physical nature may precipitate a heart attack.
For instance, if a worker lifts a heavy object and the physical exertion results in a heart attack.
Work-related heart attacks can also occur following prolonged activity like when a worker performs a physically demanding job for hours at a time. This type of heart attack could ensue when an individual works two shifts consecutively or stays up all night to finish a job. In either case, physical activity is not necessary for a heart attack to arise.
Further, changes in blood pressure related to a change in posture or simply by going from one work activity to the next can also bring about heart attacks.
Heart Attacks Caused by Emotional Factors
If an employee suffers a heart attack after witnessing workplace tragedy or following a confrontation with their superior, such injury may be compensable.
However, for claims involving a heart attack triggered by an emotional event, different rules will apply. Compensation is only available if the event in question is unrelated to common, good-faith issues of work performance, scheduling, and things of that nature.
Heart Attacks Caused by Medical Treatment
Fourth, medical treatment or medication an injured worker receives for a pre-existing work-related injury can lead to a heart attack.
To illustrate, imagine an instance where a patient must undergo an MRI for a prior work-related injury. Later, during their MRI the patient sustains a heart attack caused by stress from undergoing the procedure and being in a tight space. This heart attack would be considered “work-related.”
In fact, any injury arising out of treatment for work-related injuries is generally compensated as part of the original claim.
Can Pre-Existing Risk Factors Impact my Workers’ Compensation Claim?
No matter the type of heart attack at hand, insurance companies will usually make an issue out of the injured worker’s health history.
Pre-existing heart disease such as high blood pressure or the prevalence of certain risk factors like a history of smoking or obesity does not exclude individuals from receiving workers’ compensation benefits for a heart attack. However, workers’ compensation insurance companies will point towards these factors, suggesting the injured worker’s employment did not cause their heart attack.
Only a doctor can determine the cause of a heart attack. Most often, it is a combination of factors that will result in a heart attack – not a single factor.
Thus, as long as some aspect of employment is a factor, a workers’ compensation attorney can answer your questions. They will be able to provide advice as to whether you may be eligible to receive benefits.
Can I Receive Compensation for a Work-Related Heart Attack that Occured Outside My Workplace?
Work-related heart attacks need not always occur while at one’s place of work.
In some Massachusetts cases, individuals received workers’ compensation benefits for a heart attack occurring outside the workplace during non-work hours. Sometimes, the heart attack occurred even several days after the employee last worked.
In cases such as these, the injured worker must prove that cardiac symptoms began at work and continued. Therefore, inevitably leading to a heart attack occurring at home.
Likewise, an employee at home on a day off who receives a stress-inducing phone call from his or her employer resulting in a heart attack may receive benefits too.
Only your lawyer and doctor can provide meaningful advice as to whether workers’ compensation insurance should cover your heart attack.
Medical bills from a heart attack can be significant and time away from work while recovering can be extensive. Massachusetts law regularly awards workers’ compensation benefits for work-related heart attacks. If you or a family member suffered a work-related heart attack, even with pre-existing conditions, contact Keches Law Group today.
If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related heart attack, contact us for a free consultation today. One of our experienced attorneys can come to you if you are unable to travel to one of our offices. We will begin the process of getting you compensation for your lost wages right away.