When I first started working as a Workers’ Compensation defense attorney immediately after graduating from law school 1978, one of the biggest “cause celebre” was the issue of whether workers who suffered fatal heart attacks on the job were entitled to workers’ compensation for their widows and orphans. Workers’ compensation attorneys in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania were filing claims across the Commonwealth and insurance companies, including the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Insurance Company where I worked, were contesting every case and forcing workers to hire a workers’ comp lawyer.
Among the defenses asserted was that heart attacks were not “industrial work accidents” or “accidents in the workplace”. Nevertheless, the Courts consistently found in favor of the claimants because of persistent and competent representation by a number of lawyers who specialized in workers’ compensation law and practice.
Within a decade, insurance companies and workers’ compensation defense law firm firms stopped litigating these cases, and most were accepted voluntarily beginning in the 1980s.
However, a recent decision by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania that has exclusive jurisdiction over workers’ compensation appeals has addressed this issue once again in the case of Dietz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Lower Bucks County Join Municipal Authority). If anyone would like a copy of that decision, I would be happy to email it to you.
The significant finding in this case is an example of why a workers’ compensation attorney should be hired when such claims are denied. In this particular case, decedent died on the job while working alone. Among other defenses, the insurance company lawyers argued there was no evidence of the worker’ job duties on the day of the accident.
However, the Commonwealth Court held that precise details of a man’s final working day are not required to a prove a causal connection between his job and the heart attack that killed him. The Court found that “although details of the decedent’s final workday are scant, such details are unnecessary because of the nature of decedent’s job.”
Industrial work accidents are not always obviously compensable. Finding a workers’ compensation lawyer for a Free Consultation is the best protection available, and since a workers’ compensation lawyer does not get paid unless the claimant is successful, there is no risk to seek out a competent and experienced lawyer to handle workplace accidents.
If you have a question about workers’ compensation benefits or the myriad questions that arise in cases involving industrial accidents, contact Dan Monahan at 610-363-3888 for a Free Consultation today. He has handled thousands of workers’ compensation cases for almost 40 years.