Heart disease is a major cause of serious illness and death in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 610,000 people will die each year in our nation alone due to heart disease. This means that around 25 percent of all deaths will be related to heart disease. Heart disease is often associated with genetic risk factors as well as having a poor diet and a lack of exercise. Surprisingly, your occupation can also be a source of heart problems. In such situations, an employee, or his or her family, could file a valid Boston workers’ compensation claim.Work-Related Heart Attacks
A heart attack can sometimes entitle an employee to workers’ compensation if the heart attack is considered work-related. In order to determine if an injury is work-related, we must look to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 1, which defines a personal injury within the context of workers’ compensation benefits.
A personal injury is work-related if the risk of such a harm occurring is inherent to the employee’s occupation. A simple example could be an employee who works at a loading dock. If the worker is run over by a forklift while on the job, this is a work-related injury, because that is a risk inherent to working on a loading dock, and that is the type of accident that occurred.
This gets more complex when we are dealing with heart conditions in general, as well as where an employee has a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by a workplace accident. For example, imagine an employee that suffers from degenerative arthritis, injuring her back while lifting a box from the storeroom floor. It could be said that she would not have injured her back had she not had the pre-existing condition. This is true, but the test is not whether the pre-existing condition contributed to the workplace accident, but rather it is whether the workplace injury or illness was a major cause of the harm suffered. Courts and administrative judges at the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) have consistently held that a major cause does not have to be the sole cause or even the predominant cause, and the employees with degenerative conditions who are injured on the job can be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, even if the injury would not have happened had she not had the pre-existing condition.
There are various causes of a heart attack that can be attributable to one’s occupation and thus may entitle an employee to workers’ compensation benefits. For example, a heart attack may result from environmental conditions found on the job, like exposure to hazardous chemicals. If that were the case, an employee may have a valid workers’ compensation case.