What would you do if you suffered a heart attack because of the stress of your work? Could you afford the time off to recover? What if you could no longer work? Even if you have health insurance, surgery and heart medications are expensive. Hospital stays are not cheap. How would you pay your medical bills and take care of your family? If you have a heart attack on the job and you believe that it is related to your work, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ Compensation Basics Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that is required by most employers in every state. It is in place to protect workers who are hurt in some way on the job. To gain access to workers’ compensation benefits, you must file a claim and it must be determined by medical professionals and workers’ compensation that your heart attack was, indeed, caused by your work. Workers’ compensation insurance is beneficial even if you have a good health insurance plan. Copays on medication, hospital stays, and surgery can be extremely pricey. If you are approved for workers’ compensation, you will receive assistance with your medical care at very little to no cost out of your own pocket. If you can’t work either temporarily or permanently, you may be entitled to receive a portion of your wages. If it is determined that you may be able to work, but just not in your particular field, you may be eligible for job training through workers’ compensation to help you learn a new skill and re-enter the workforce. Heart Attack: An Occupational Illness If you work in a high stress job, such as law enforcement, emergency medicine (including paramedics), or even firefighters, you have a higher risk of suffering from a heart attack. In some instances, a heart attack is treated like an occupational illness under workers’ compensation insurance. However, it must be proven that your heart attack occurred as a direct result of your job. Stress from work can weaken your heart and also make you more likely to suffer from a heart attack particularly if you work in an occupation that involves a lot of physical exertion. Other factors can include strain from work or unusual conditions. Each State Is Different Each state is different in how they handle heart attacks with workers’ compensation. In some states, it must be shown that there is a casual relation between the heart attack and the job. In other states, there is a higher standard. It’s important to note that the workers’ compensation insurance adjustor may try to deny your claim or not give you all of the benefits you may deserve if you have a pre-existing condition, certain dietary habits, or if you are not in good physical shape. They may try to convince you to sign a settlement agreement that limits your recovery or makes you responsible for your own care. Do not sign anything from the workers’ compensation insurance company without first speaking with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Protect Your Legal Rights Because each state is different in how it handles heart attacks under workers’ compensation, it is vital that you make an appointment with a workers’ compensation attorney. This is the best way to protect your legal rights in your state.