Heart attacks (otherwise known as myocardial infarctions) and strokes often happen at work. When they do, people often wonder if their jobs caused or contributed to the heart attack or stroke. Heart attacks and strokes can be covered by workers’ compensation, but there are special rules under Georgia workers’ compensation law that apply to strokes and heart attacks.
Requirement of medical evidence to prove heart attack and stroke injuries
One of the special rules for heart attack and stroke injuries is a requirement of medical evidence. This means that there must be evidence from a medical provider that the job caused or contributed to the heart attack or stroke. Take a look at this article discussing a 2015 Georgia Court of Appeals case that commented on medical evidence in stroke cases.
Usually, a doctor who provided medical treatment for the heart attack or stroke could provide the medical evidence. The evidence could also come from a doctor who did not provide any treatment but reviewed medical records and other information and gave an opinion. It is important to understand that it is also fine to use nonmedical evidence (like the testimony of the injured worker or other witnesses) as long as there is some medical evidence used.
Special rules about heart attacks or strokes resulting in death
Unfortunately, heart attacks or strokes sometimes result in death. Georgia workers’ compensation law allows dependents to receive dependency benefits if an employee dies because of a work-related injury. When someone dies as a result of a heart attack or stroke, the survivors may find it difficult to establish that the heart attack or stroke was work-related.
Once again, special rules can apply. One of these rules is the “unexplained death” presumption. This rules applies when an injured worker dies on the job and there are no witnesses. In this situation, it is presumed that the injured worker’s death was work-related so that workers’ compensation benefits will usually be paid.
The “unexplained death presumption” is very important since the person who knows the most information about what happened – the deceased employee – cannot testify. If this special rule was not used, it would be almost impossible to prove that workers’ compensation benefits should be paid when the employee’s death was unwitnessed.
This special rule does not apply if there are witnesses. But, the dependents may prove their case through the testimony of the people who witnessed the heart attack or stroke.
Detailed facts are very important
Facts are crucial in any case involving a heart attack or stroke. There are a number of factors that increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, such as:
The insurance company will almost always try to argue that the heart attack or stroke was caused by one of these factors and not by the work that was being done. It is very important to have a good understanding of the facts of the case.
Witnesses (if there are any) can help with facts. You (or your attorney) should get medical records as well. Even if you were not in perfect health, the job could have still caused or contributed to your heart attack or stroke. The doctor will need detailed facts to give an accurate medical opinion about what the cause was. Without medical evidence, you cannot win a heart attack or stroke case in Georgia.
It is also important to have a good understanding of the law to win a heart attack or stroke case. Because medical evidence is required, you (or your attorney) will need to know the rules regarding getting medical evidence admitted in court. Also, the doctor needs to be asked the right questions in order to prove the case.
Without the right evidence to prove your case in court, you will probably lose. Because of this, you need to make sure that you prepare your case properly or hire an attorney who will do so.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly blogs about Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
You can subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation channel on YouTube.