Firefighters risk their lives every time they head out on an emergency call. Not knowing what to expect on the scene, many will face high-levels of stress in addition to dangerous circumstances. In a recent case, a South Carolina firefighter and paramedic suffered a heart attack in the bunkroom of his station and died after he went into cardiac arrest. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the 29-year-old firefighter had responded to several emergency calls and worked on a fire prevention detail only hours before he died of the fatal heart attack.
Though fellow paramedics and responders tried to save the firefighter, their attempts were unsuccessful. According to reports, the cause of death was listed as “over exertion.” When a worker suffers from a heart attack while on the job, compensation can be more complicated, depending on the facts of the case. The workers’ compensation system allows workers to collect lost wages, hospital expenses, and wrongful death benefits without having to prove fault. Any worker is entitled to workers’ compensation so long as they were injured while in the course of performing work-related duties. When an employee suffers from a heart attack, the individual circumstances are important to determine whether it is a compensable event.
It is important to remember that not every health incident is covered by workers compensation just because it happens on the job. Cases involving illness are generally not compensable, and heart attacks on their own would usually not be covered by workers’ compensation. The central question in any workers’ compensation case is whether injury is an event that rose out of and in the course of employment. Heart attacks and strokes have been hotly debated in workers’ compensation law and the outcomes have varied by jurisdiction. Courts will evaluate whether the heart attack could be considered job related or whether the heart attack occurred because of job duties.
In this case, an experienced workers’ compensation advocate would need to argue that there was a causal connection between the firefighter’s heart attack and his job duties. As a 29-year-old, the victim was not likely at a high risk of heart attack, but could have suffered from heart failure because of the high stress nature of his work. Linking the emergency calls and events prior to the attack would be important to prove that the family is eligible to collect death benefits. Our Rock Hill workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims and their families. In any case involving injury or death, we will work to collect the compensation you deserve after an on-the-job injury.
Investigators are likely to examine whether the victim had prior illnesses or conditions that may have contributed to the heart attack. The high-stress nature of firefighting could be causality enough to give rise to workers’ compensation benefits. According to reports, the victim was also a volunteer firefighter and with Chesnee Community Fire Department and worked for Spartanburg County EMS and Transarmed.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
More Blog Entries:
Poole v. University of North Carolina – Vocational Rehabilitation Often Mandated, Aug. 11, 2014, Greenville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog
Graven v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety – Injuries From Holiday Lunch Accident Not Compensable, Aug. 15, 2014, Charlotte Work Injury Lawyer Blog