If you have suffered a stroke at work, whether it is covered by workers’ compensation is dependent on several things. Many attorneys will say there is a “gray area” as to whether workers’ compensation covers strokes or heart attacks that happen on the job.
When you file a claim for a stroke, your employer’s insurer will carefully go over your medical records. You will have to show that your stroke was related to your working conditions. Examples of work-related contributors to a stroke include stress, extreme heat, or physical exertion.
If medical evidence supports that your stroke was indeed work-related, your claim should be successful. You might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if your stroke happened while you were home, just so long as your medical evidence shows that it was the result of your work environment.
Alleging You Were Predisposed To a Stroke
If your medical records show that you were overweight, have hypertension, a pre-existing heart condition, or high cholesterol, your claim will most likely be denied and they will claim that you were predisposed to a stroke or heart attack. You and your attorney will have the burden of proof to show that your stroke resulted from your work conditions.
The evidence that will be beneficial will include a medical opinion from a physician regarding what precipitated your condition. If the workers’ compensation physician does not support your claim, ask your workers’ compensation attorney about a second opinion. To improve your odds of a successful claim, file a claim with your employer regarding your stroke as soon as possible.
While each state sets its own laws, usually you only have 30 days to file a claim with your employer. This way, your employer has been notified while you and your lawyer gather supporting evidence for your claim.
Be Able to Prove That Your Stroke Was Work-Related
If you had a stroke on the job, in order to get damages from a workers' compensation settlement, you need to prove that your stroke was work-related and not due to any preexisting conditions.
Depending on what state the accident occurred in, you will also need to prove had not been for the job, the stroke would not have occurred.
You could get a stroke on the job due to the high volume of stress that your job produces, a stroke on the job can also occur if there was a prior injury on the job that lead to that stroke. Your workers' compensation lawyer will work hard to help you present your evidence to prove that your stroke was work-related.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation After a Stroke
If you have experienced a stroke while at work the first thing you need to do is get to an emergency room for treatment. The earlier you get there the better. Don’t wait until the end of the day as this will give your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer an excuse not to accept your workers’ compensation claim. Your employer may require you to seek treatment from a physician or medical facility approved by its insurer. However, when it is an emergency situation like a stroke, you will benefit more if you get treatment from the closest medical provider than if you wait for a decision from your employer.
The Steps to Take When Filing for Compensation After a Stroke
The next step after treatment is filing an accident report with your employer. Some employers set deadlines for doing this which vary from 24 hours after the accident to 7 days or more. If you fail to file the report before the deadline you may find your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may deny your claim. You can ask a work mate to report your injury on your behalf, but make sure s/he does it on the right form or in writing.
Not all workers’ compensation claims are easy to settle, so hiring a workers’ comp. lawyer may put your mind at ease as you can expect a better outcome to your claim. Most don’t ask for upfront legal fees but you pay these when your WC claim has been settled and you are happy with the result. The next step is getting your hands on a workers’ comp. claim form. Your employer may have one, or failing that you, may need to seek one from your state’s workers’ compensation board. Once you have one you will need to fill in some key details on the form as follows:
- your full name;
- your job title;
- your employer’s name;
- the nature of your injury;
- where and when your injury took place;
- whether any fellow workers were involved in the accident.
The next stage is gathering the required evidence to support your WC claim. Your attorney can help you with this. Insufficient evidence which fails to prove your stroke took place at work could result in your WC claim being denied. You will then have to face the prospect of filing an appeal.
Evidence to Support a Claim for a Stroke
The evidence required should include any or all of the following:
- photos taken at the site where the stroke took place, including your physical condition following the stroke;
- video footage retrieved from surveillance cameras;
- eye witnesses’ written reports, indicating where and when the stroke took place;
- your physician’s written medical report including a likely recovery time;
- receipts for medical treatment;
- unpaid invoices for medical treatment;
- proof of out-of-pocket expenses.
Potential Settlement Amounts for a Stroke
Settlements for a stroke are calculated in the same way as any injury. First of all the cost of past, present and future medical treatment is calculated. A calculation is then made for two thirds of lost weekly wages covering up to the time you are likely to return to work. The average stay in hospital for a stroke patient is between four and seven days. Survivors are typically transferred from an acute care facility to a skilled nursing facility, an inpatient rehabilitation facility or a long-term acute care hospital. The average WC settlement for a stroke is $24,000.
What Can Speed Up or Slow Down a Settlement?
There are many factors which can influence how short or long a workers’ comp. These could be:
- if the claimant hires a lawyer;
- if the claimant attempts to negotiate a more favorable settlement;
- if the insurance company raises a dispute over its claimant’s permanent disability.
Permanent disability benefits often takeover much of the value of a settlement so it is important to dispute a settlement if it doesn’t seem to be fair. Some claims take several months to finally settle. Workers who have hired a lawyer tend to have prolonged workers’ compensation cases. On average, workers’ compensation cases were resolved in 17.9 months if the worker had the services of a WC lawyer, compared to 12.2 months for those workers who didn’t have a lawyer.
Consult With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have suffered a stroke because of your working conditions, you should consult with a workers’ compensation attorney who is licensed in your state. A lawyer can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case and will make sure you are treated fairly.
An attorney can effectively and efficiently file your claim, handle any appeals, gather evidence and documentation and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page today, so you can get your workers’ compensation claim for a stroke underway.