Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) April 9, 2021 – Recently, a South Jersey man received news that he will receive over $200,000 in compensation related to injuries he sustained after having a heart attack while at work. While the man’s employer denied his workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker’s attorneys at Petrillo & Goldberg successfully argued that the heart attack was work-related, helping secure the man’s award.
The case presented an interesting issue regarding when an on-the-job heart attack is considered work-related under New Jersey workers’ compensation law. Specifically, state law requires that workers show that their job duties are significantly more strenuous than their life outside of work.
The case involved a man who worked at a South Jersey Costco. In January 2013, the man’s supervisors asked him to come in a few hours early to help move laundry detergent pallets. Due to an ongoing promotion, many laundry detergent boxes had to be moved and stacked to make them more visible to customers. The worker’s employer asked him to come in at 2:30 a.m.
At around 7 a.m. – after moving eight detergent pallets, weighing more than 1500 pounds – the worker went to use the restroom. Minutes passed, and the man did not return. Eventually, the worker’s supervisor went to look for him in the restroom. As he entered the restroom, the supervisor found the worker collapsed on the floor. The supervisor performed CPR and did what he could until emergency medical personnel arrived.
At the hospital, doctors determined that the worker suffered a heart attack. He also had a blood clot in his leg. Doctors had to perform emergency surgery to put a metal stent in his heart and a filter in his leg. The worker was in a coma for two weeks before he was transferred to a rehabilitation facility, where he stayed for another two months.
As a result of his injuries, the employee missed ten months of work and can no longer perform the type of work he used to. Since then, he has become a forklift operator. Additionally, he must now regularly take medication that he did not previously need to take, and his leg occasionally swells up. He must also undergo diagnostic testing at regular intervals.
The Workers’ Compensation Claim
After the worker recovered from his injuries, he filed a South Jersey workers’ compensation claim. As is often the case, the man’s employer contested the claim. In this case, the employer argued that his heart attack was not work-related. In New Jersey, to prove that a heart attack was work-related, an employee must prove that their job duties are significantly more strenuous than their life outside of work.
The case was not straightforward because the man had a history of high blood pressure and cholesterol and took medication since the late 1980s. This opened the door up for the employer to argue that the heart attack was not work-related.
In support of its defense, the employer called two doctors to testify. The doctors’ collective opinion was that the day the man was injured was not especially strenuous and that there was no way to tell what caused the heart attack or when the heart attack occurred. However, as the judge later found out, the doctors did not review all of the worker’s medical history and had no idea about the man’s day-to-day routine while at work. Thus, the judge determined the employer’s experts were not credible.
In support of his claim, Petrillo & Goldberg’s attorneys called the injured worker, his wife and the man’s supervisor to testify. The worker testified that this particular day was the hardest of the year due to many products that needed to be moved and stacked. The worker’s supervisor agreed. It was also established that the man had suffered a previous back and neck injury and was, for the most part, sedentary at home. This helped the worker’s attorneys establish that his at-home life was much less strenuous than his work life. The judge found the injured worker, his wife and the supervisor all to be credible witnesses.
After hearing all the evidence and argument from counsel, the judge found that the worker was 55 percent disabled. The judge awarded him $199,980 in permanent disability and $28,000 in lost wages.
The New Jersey personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Petrillo & Goldberg, remind workers that non-traditional workplace injuries – such as heart attacks – may be the basis for a workers’ compensation claim. Scott M. Goldberg, Founding Partner at Petrillo & Goldberg, explains “while slip-and-falls, repetitive use injuries and machinery-related injuries may come to mind when someone hears the term workers’ compensation claim, under the law, an injured worker may be able to obtain benefits for any kind of workplace injury. The basic requirement is that the injury must be work-related.”
The New Jersey workers’ compensation law firm of Petrillo & Goldberg consists of a compassionate team of advocates who have dedicated their career to ensuring that injury accident victims recover the compensation they deserve. Petrillo & Goldberg attorneys skillfully deal with the insurance companies so employees can focus on healing, returning to work and moving forward with their life. To learn more, visit https://www.petrilloandgoldberg.com, or call 856-249-9288 to schedule a free consultation.
Petrillo & Goldberg Law
6951 North Park Drive
Pennsauken, NJ 08109
19 South 21st Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
70 South Broad Street
Woodbury, NJ 08096
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