What are the factors a court will review in deciding if an on-the-job heart attack is compensable?
The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act has a specific provision addressing cardiovascular and cerebral vascular (stroke) injuries. Section 7.2 of the Act provides, “In any claim for compensation for injury or death from cardiovascular or cerebral vascular causes, the claimant shall prove by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the injury or death was produced by the work effort or strain involving a substantial condition, event or happening in excess of the wear and tear of the claimant’s daily living and in reasonable medical probability caused in a material degree the cardiovascular or cerebral vascular injury or death resulting therefrom.”
“Material degree” means an appreciable degree or a degree substantially greater than de minimus.
Obviously this is one of the more difficult areas of Workers’ Compensation law, and a worker who suffers a heart attack on the job should consult a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. A key issue here is the work effort was and whether it was in excess of the worker’s daily living. Our courts have interpreted this not as a comparison of the work effort at the time of the attack but rather a comparison of that work effort with the wear and tear of the person’s daily living outside of work.
A second important point to consider are the medical proofs available. What was the worker’s health before the attack? How much time passed between the work effort and the attack? Obviously these complicated issues should always be handled by a qualified workers’ compensation attorney such as those here at Stark & Stark.