Can I Collect Workers Compensation for a Heart Attack?
Workers Compensation is awarded for “work related” injuries or illness. An injury or illness is considered work-related if exposure or an event in the work environment caused a condition or contributed to it, or aggravated a pre-existing condition significantly. Disabilities resulting from a workplace accident are almost always covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, work-related illnesses – such as heart attacks – are much more difficult to prove as being “work related”.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), classifies qualifying illnesses as: skin diseases or disorders; poisoning; hearing loss; respiratory conditions; and, “all other occupational illnesses”. So, to be covered under Workers Compensation, a heart attack must arise “out of and in the course of employment”.
The good news is that California has more “generous” Workers Comp standards than some other states – and many illnesses are compensable in California that are not in other states.
California Workers Compensation Law on Heart Attacks
Under California law, for a heart attack to qualify for workers comp, the worker’s employment or work-related stress does not need to be the sole cause of the injury – it only has to be a “substantial contributing cause”. In fact, the document cover sheet for California workers’ comp claims actually includes heart attacks in its “body part code list” – officially acknowledging that heart attacks may (under some circumstances) qualify an applicant for workers comp!
However, California workers’ compensation law also provides that when injury or disease aggravates a pre-existing condition, the amount of compensation is limited to the portion of disability reasonably attributed to work-related factors.
So, the “short answer” is “yes” – sometimes heart attacks are compensable under workers compensation in California. But the “long answer” is that it must be proven that the applicant’s employment was a substantial contributing cause of the heart attack, in order for workers compensation to be approved for the heart attack.
Long Beach Workers Compensation Lawyers
If you have suffered a heart attack and are pursuing workers compensation benefits, the particular circumstances of your specific case will determine whether workers’ compensation benefits are available to you. Our experienced workers compensation lawyers would be happy to discuss your unique situation with you, to ensure that you receive the maximum workers compensation benefits for which you may qualify for your heart attack.