Heart attack 30 hours after physical exertion during training is compensable
New Hampshire Insurance Co. v. Allison, No. 01-12-00505-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 08/01/13).
The Texas Court of Appeals held that an operator's fatal heart attack was compensable.
What it means: In Texas, a worker's heart attack is not required to have occurred during work hours in order for it to be compensable.
Summary: A 66-year-old operator attended fire training school as a requirement for his employment. The operator had bad knees, so he was driven to each of the fire training sites. He also had diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease.
During the training, the operator wore heavier clothing than usual, was exposed to greater heat, and engaged in greater physical activity than he normally experienced during work. The day after he finished the training, he suffered a heart attack, which ultimately caused his death. His widow sought workers' compensation benefits. The Texas Court of Appeals held that the operator's heart attack was compensable. The court rejected the employer's insurer's argument that a heart attack must occur during work hours in order for it to be compensable. The court explained that for a heart attack to be compensable it must have occurred at a definite time and place and caused by a specific event occurring in the course and scope of the worker's employment.
Both sides' experts agreed that physical stress beyond a worker's usual activity can increase the risk for a heart attack. The operator's physician opined that the heart attack was caused by a plaque rupture that occurred during the course and scope of the operator's employment while he was at the training. The court found that it was possible for a person to experience increased physical stress, have a continuity of symptoms following the increase in physical stress, and have a heart attack more than 30 hours later. While there was evidence that the operator only "minimally participated" in the training, his physical exertion during the training was far greater than his physical exertion in his regular work duties.
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October 14, 2013
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