Heart Problems | Safety Workers
Workers' Compensation case law has determined that these presumption statutes "show a purpose of the Legislature to provide additional benefits for certain public employees whose services are both vital to the public interest and hazardous." The heart presumption is an important presumption to understand if you are a safety worker.
Depending on the agency you work for (county, city, or state) and the type of safety employee you are, the rules may vary for the heart presumption. The point is that we will need to look at your claim or potential claim specifically to advise you of your rights.
What You Should Know
- If heart trouble manifests or develops while you are working in your safety job, then it is presumed to be work-related.
- Many safety workers don't understand that the presumption continues after you stop working or retire; this continues up to five (5) years after your last date worked.
- The Labor Code describes heart trouble as one which develops OR manifests while employed or within the post-separation time period. Hence, if you sustained a heart attack, or suffered some type of heart trouble, more than five years post separation, you could still be covered by the presumption if a physician believes your heart trouble actually developed while employed or within the post-presumption time frame. Some heart conditions develop but may not manifest until years later.
- There are situations where you can win the workers' compensation case beyond five (5) years if the condition manifested itself within the presumption period.
- If a heart attack causes death within the presumption period (up to five years), your spouse / dependents could be entitled to death benefits.
- If you had a heart attack or bypass surgery five (5), ten (10), or even twenty (20) years ago and did not file for workers' compensation benefits, the time limits to file may not apply to you.
- If you have a heart attack or bypass surgery after the presumption period (up to five (5) years), you still may be entitled to the presumption, because it matters when the heart condition manifested or developed not when the heart attack or bypass surgery occurred.
- The statute of limitations does not begin until the eligible safety employee knows or should have known the heart condition could be caused by work. It's possible for you to file a claim and win even years after heart trouble began.
Before You Retire or Leave Your Safety Job
An easy way to avoid litigation and to assist in delivering benefits for a person with a heart injury is to follow this plan before you retire or leave your job:
- Get a complete physical exam by your personal physician. Ask for heart scan, such as an EBCT Heart Scan, which may or may not be covered by your insurance; it can cost $150.00 to $600.00.
- If you have high blood pressure, ask your doctor to schedule an echocardiogram. It's a non-invasive study that detects abnormalities of the heart.