Last year in Oregon, an interesting case came up in regards to workers compensation. A firefighter applied for workers compensation due to a heart attack he suffered while at work. While the case eventually went to the state supreme court and was rejected, the facts of what happened were extremely interesting and really rested upon the fact that an injury can be work related whether or not you were at work at the time. Alternately, it may not be work related even if you were at your job when the incident occurred.
The man in question, 44 at the time, stated he was using gym equipment at the fire house when he began to feel chest discomfort. At this point he had been working as a firefighter for around nine years and had always been healthy. A couple of days later, he was off duty when he felt more discomfort in his chest as well as his neck. He went to see a doctor and after being checked out by a cardiologist was told he had suffered a heart attack. It was proven that he had none of the “normal” factors to a heart attack, as he was not overweight, he did not smoke, he did not have diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol, and had no known family history of heart related issues.
The firefighter then told the workers compensation committee that he believed the heart attack was caused by an occupational disease. While an independent doctor said the heart attack was simply due to aging in his case, the board still awarded the man compensation. This was due to the employer not meeting their burden of proof. This was appealed and eventually the state supreme court found that one of the main reasons that the original board ruled for the firefighter was that the independent doctor’s testimony was inconsistent. They affirmed the board’s original ruling.
This case was extremely interesting for the fact that it could have really gone either way. If there was no proof or argument for the heart attack being due to an occupational disease, it would not have mattered that the man was at work while it happened. Location has very little to do with claims like this. Call Collier today if you have had an incident like this and see if you may have a case.