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Workers' compensation covers heart attack after shift was over

Connecticut's workers' compensation system provides benefits for workers who are injured on the job. That doesn't necessarily mean that the worker has to be in the office at the time of the injury. For example, a worker who is injured while driving an employer's truck on a delivery run would most likely be eligible for workers' compensation.

In a recent case from another state, a court found that the widow of a worker who suffered a fatal heart attack was entitled to workers' compensation benefits even though her husband didn't have the heart attack until 30 hours after receiving training.

The 66-year-old worker, who had coronary artery disease and other health concerns, was ordered by his employer to receive fire training. During the training, he was exposed to high heat and made to exert himself more than he ordinarily did at work. He suffered a heart attack 30 hours after the training, eventually leading to his death. A physician testified that the cause of the heart attack was likely a rupture that occurred during the training.

The employer's insurance company argued that a heart attack must occur during a worker's shift in order for it to be covered by workers' compensation, but the state's Court of Appeals rejected that argument. The court found that the symptoms of the man's heart attack began during activity that was in the scope of the man's work duties and therefore the widow was entitled to benefits.

This case took place in a different state, and it may have turned out differently had it gone to trial in Connecticut. Nonetheless, it illustrates points that are universal to workers' compensation cases. Almost any injury that occurs in the course of the worker's employment is compensable.

Source: Risk & Insurance, "Heart attack 30 hours after physical exertion during training is compensable," Oct. 14, 2013

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