Every once in a while, we hear from workers or the families of workers who have a heart attack at work or a stroke at work. The first question always is this: Is a heart attack or stroke covered under Indiana Worker’s Compensation Law?
The answer is: It depends. Suppose an employee, who has a long history of heart disease, goes into work, has a heart attack at the end of his shift, and becomes disabled. His doctor is certain that the heart disease became symptomatic for the first time while at work, but does not blame the heart attack on anything that happened at work. Under these facts, there probably is no worker’s compensation case. In a case with similar facts, Glenn v. Board of Commissioners, Harrison County, Indiana, the Indiana Court of Appeals denied the injured worker’s claim because there was no evidence that his job caused his heart attack. Basically, the Court’s opinion was that the heart attack was going to happen eventually, and that it was just a coincidence that it happened at work. The Court said in such a situation, there is no claim for worker’s compensation benefits.
However, in a case with similar facts, Wright Tree Service v. Hernandez, the Indiana Court of Appeals sided with the employee. In that case, the employee worked for a tree trimming business. He was struck by a tree limb and sent home early that day. A few hours later, he had a heart attack and died. The Court of Appeals said his heart attack was caused by work, the reason being that his family produced a doctor whose opinion was that the stresses caused by being struck by a tree limb induced the heart attack. This person’s family was awarded death benefits because his heart attack was caused by work.
The fact is that the type of work you do, and the stresses caused by work, can lead to serious health problems including heart attacks and strokes. If you or a loved one suffered a heart attack or stroke on the job, call Indiana work comp attorney Charles S. Hewins for a free consultation.