Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for a Heart Attack?

It has been described as one of the most terrifying experiences that you will ever go through. A heart attack is a major medical emergency and can require months and months of recovery.  After you have gone through such a traumatic ordeal the last thing you want to think about is money and how you are going to go back to work.

Fortunately, the Arkansas Worker’s Compensation Commission (AWCC) was established to enforce the Workers’ Compensation laws in Arkansas and to ensure that all covered employers secure insurance coverage from commercial carriers or through self-insurance programs. Additionally, the AWCC regulates Workers’ Compensation awards to ensure that benefit providers make correct and timely payments to eligible claimants. While employers have the right to challenge a claim filed by a worker, some may abuse this authority and discretion.  If you encounter resistance from your employer or the AWCC questions your claim, an experienced lawyer can fight for the benefits you are entitled to receive. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Fayetteville personal injury lawyer who has worked with trucker drivers and understands many of their common concerns call Ken Kieklak by dialing (479) 316-0438 or contact us online.

Is a Heart Attack Suffered While Working Compensable?

While there are some obvious claims that would likely entitle you to receive benefits having a heart attack can fall somewhere in the gray area of the Workers’ Compensation.

When you have a heart attack it might not fall under Workers’ Compensation depending on the circumstances that lead to the heart attack and where you were when it happened. Title 11 of the Arkansas Code § 11-9-114 – Heart or lung injury or illness (b) (1) provides the standard or proof a person will have to prove if they want to recover for a heart attack.

An injury or disease included in subsection (a) of this section shall not be deemed to be a compensable injury unless it is shown that the exertion of the work necessary to precipitate the disability or death was extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the employee’s usual work in the course of the employee’s regular employment or, alternately, that some unusual and unpredicted incident occurred which is found to have been the major cause of the physical harm.

In the case of Kimble v. Hino Motors Mfg. United States, Inc. case, an employee began experiencing arm pain, nausea, and problems with sweating while they were performing regular job duties. The employee had to be transported to an area hospital because of their symptoms. The employee was diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction. He underwent urgent left cardiac catheterization and stent implantation in the right coronary artery. Since the employee began experiencing the symptoms while they were performing their regular duties and they did not have a medical opinion stating that the additional task he was performing at the time was the major cause of his heart attack, the Court found his heart attack was not compensable. The standard of proof in heart-attack cases, as stated in § 11-9-114 of the Arkansas Code, is high.

What is the Role of the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission?

To begin with, it is essential to understand the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission is not an insurance company nor can a worker buy insurance from it. In fact, workers should not be purchasing insurance or pay for Workers’ Compensation insurance at all. The insurance should be purchased by and paid for by most employers in the state of Arkansas.

In general, Arkansas employers who employ three or more workers must provide Workers’ Compensation coverage. However there are exceptions to the three or more rule and some employers may be required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance with less than 3 staff members. To comply with Arkansas’ legal requirements, a company must obtain a Workers’ Compensation policy or receive AWCC for self-insured status. If your company is required to hold a Workers’ Compensation policy or be self-insured, the state will consider it fraud if you have alternate non-complying arrangements. If AWCC cannot verify your coverage or self-insurance waiver it will generally take one of three actions:

  • Send a letter asking the employer to verify coverage with the AWCC’s insurance representative.
  • Send a questionnaire from the AWCC’s Operations & Compliance Division.
  • Conduct an on-site investigation at the employer’s place of business.

Generally speaking, employers are liable for Workers’ Compensation benefits for two years from the date of the employee’s injury. If the covered period is greater than two years, the employer is liable for one year from the date of last payment for new benefits. Thus for employers, ensuring that a company is covered by legally sufficient Workers’ Compensation insurance is an essential step in avoiding potentially expansive liability. Workers benefit by having the certainty knowing that if they suffer an injury, they will be taken care of and, generally, will not have to go through the litigation process. However, you need to be aware if you’ll need a Fayetteville AR workers’ comp lawyer for your case.

What Benefits are Included in Workers’ Compensation?

The benefits received from Workers’ Compensation vary depending on the specific case. However, a Workers’ Compensation claimant has the possibility of obtaining the following benefits:

  • Medical Expenses—If you otherwise qualify for Workers’ Compensation, 100% of your medical expenses are covered.
  • Temporary Total Disability (TTD)—If your injury requires you to take time off to heal, you are entitled to weekly wage-loss benefits. The amount of weekly wage-loss benefits is two-thirds of your average gross-weekly pay.
  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)—Permanent Partial Disability consists of payments for an anatomical impairment rating given you by your treating doctor. The amount of these payments depends upon the body part impaired and how this impairment will impact your life.
  • Permanent Total Disability (PTD)—If your injury leaves you unable to work permanently, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation for life. Similar to TTD, the compensation amount is two-thirds of your average gross-weekly pay.
  • Wage Loss Differential—If your injury leaves you unable to perform your current job and you are forced to take a lower-paying job, you are entitled to compensation for your decrease in pay. The amount of compensation is no more than two-thirds of the difference between your current and former average, gross, weekly wage.
  • Survivor Benefits—If a worker is killed on the job, his dependent heirs may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Our Fayetteville, Arkansas Worker’s Compensation Lawyers Have the Experience to Help

For more than 20 years Ken Kieklak has fought for injured, hard-working people.  To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a workers comp attorney, call us at (479) 316-0438 today or contact us online.