It can be difficult to prove a heart attack is work related in Illinois. Just being at the job when the heart attack happens or having a stressful job isn’t usually enough to win a case. The reality is that while these are difficult cases, they are winnable with the right set of facts. It’s also true that very few Illinois work comp attorneys have gone to trial and won a claim for heart attack benefits for their clients. So it’s important if you do have a heart attack and want to claim work comp to have an experienced attorney in your corner. It can be literally the difference between winning and losing a case.
There are some keys to winning a case like this:
1. Your medical records and other medical evidence presented.
2. Your testimony and how credible it is or isn’t.
3. Witness testimony.
That’s not a lot, but that’s how most Illinois work comp cases happen. In a recent case, a nurse in Alton was able to prove her heart attack was work related due to those three ingredients. She was 48 at the time of her injury and working in a mental health facility. Her job duties included caring for patients who are criminally insane and unfit to stand trial. She worked 16 hour shifts, four days a week due to overtime mandates by the employer.
On the day of her heart attack, she got into a fight with a combative patient. She was kicked, bitten and spat on. Her heart began to race and she had problems breathing. She was dizzy and had chest pain. She was sent to the ER and was diagnosed with a heart attack along with an injury to her knee.
Her case was denied, but she won at trial and on appeal. The Arbitrator put significant weight on her testimony which was found to be very credible. He also noted witnesses corroborated her story and medical records consistently documented that her heart problems began as the result of having to physically strain a very combative patient. It was very important that she didn’t have any heart issues before this incident and the fact that she worked so many hours in this stressful, unique job didn’t hurt either.
Now common sense will tell you that if you are in a physical altercation it can make your heart race and that in some cases that could lead to a heart attack. That seems very clearly what happened here. But Illinois companies and in this case, the State of Illinois itself, almost never voluntarily pay benefits when a heart attack happens. In a fair world they would do the right thing, but sadly that’s not how things work. All of this goes back to my original point that it’s important to have an experienced attorney in your corner as without one you have pretty much no chance.
If you’d like to speak with an attorney for free, you can contact our office any time at 312-346-5578. We work with lawyers throughout the state so we can help you anywhere in Illinois.