Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Heart Injuries and Heart Attacks

Heart Injuries and Heart Attacks
by Nick Wearne, Associate Attorney
Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC

Some work related injuries have special laws that govern whether they are compensable and how much benefit can be received.  One such law is Arizona Revised Statute 23-1043.01.  This section tells us what is required for a heart related injury to be covered under workers compensation. 

Generally speaking, a heart related injury is not covered under workers compensation.  However, the statute says a heart related injury is covered when some injury, stress, or exertion related to the employment was a ‘substantial contributing cause’ of the heart injury.  Whether a work related stress or exertion is a ‘substantial contributing cause’ is a determination that must be made by an administrative law judge on a case by case basis.

While it is hard to know ahead of time how a judge will rule on a heart attack case, we can look at past cases for guidance.  In one Arizona case, Skyview Cooling v. Industrial Commission, a heart attack was considered compensable where the main cause of the worker’s heart attack was the workers underlying heart disease but, a work related exertion precipitated the attack.  The worker in this case was walking through thick mud while doing farm work in Yuma Arizona when he experienced a heart attack.  The worker’s doctors agreed that the main cause of the heart injury was a blocked artery in the workers heart but, one of the doctors testified that the exertion from walking through the mud, and the exertion of having to pull his legs out when he got stuck, contributed to the heart attack and caused the attack to happen when it did.  The heart injury in this case was considered compensable under workers compensation.

If you have a job that requires stress/exertion, have experienced a heart attack while at work, and a claim was never filed or has been denied, call an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.  Do not assume that just because you had heart disease or were somehow predisposed to a heart attack that you do not deserve coverage.  At Snow Carpio and Weekley we will fight to get your past medical expenses covered, we will fight to get you lost wages while you recover, and will fight to get you the best cardiac care possible. 

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