Submitted by New Jersey Workers Compensation Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In this case petitioner is seeking partial total disability arising out of a heart attack which took place during the course of business hours.
A heart attack case is a very interesting work related injury which requires the petitioner to bring a much greater level of medical proofs to support his claim. The New Jersey Worker’s Compensation statute, NJSA 34:15–7.2 governs cardiac claims arising out of work conditions. This section of the Worker’s Compensation statute requires an employee prove that the work affect was “in excess of the rigors of the claimants daily living” and the cause of the cardiac injury was job-related to a material degree. The long-standing statutory interpretation requires the employee must show that his work effort was qualitatively more intense than the strain of physical activity to which the worker was a custom in his time of leisure. In other words, the employee must show that his work duties were much greater than that which he was used to while not working.
In this case the petitioner alleged he was required during the morning of his heart attack to carry between 20 and 25 bags of trash weighing between 40 and 50 pounds down five or six flights of stairs and then lift the bag and throw them into a trash hopper. The employee also testified there was an elevator available however they were not allowed to use same.
In its findings the court was persuaded by the credible testimony of the petitioner which was corroborated by other employees who observed the petitioner when he was suffering a heart attack. The courts determine the trash activity was clearly arduous work and the petitioner private provided credible objective evidence which was clear and convincing that his heart attack was related to the excess of his work requirements. The experts, petitioners and respondents, agreed that the work was “in excess of the rigors of the claimants daily living” and that was the cause of the cardiac injury to a material degree. The court also found that the petitioner suffer from ongoing residual disability is related to the cardiac event and he suffered ongoing functional limitations to do this heart attack.
The key to this court’s decision is not just the nature and extent of the work petitioner was required to undergo, but the ongoing nature and extent of the petitioner’s functional limitation given his current condition. Often times a heart attack is related to a long-term chronic condition and plaque buildup requiring a stent. Obviously this is not a work related condition or a one-time work-related injury. However, petitioner’s doctors and respondents doctors agreed that the work he was required to perform was above his ordinary leisure time activities, and petitioner suffered a long-term residual disability supported by the objective ongoing medical treatment.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.