Workers’ Compensation – Stroke (2009)
Heart attacks and strokes frequently occur at the workplace as a result of the jobs that employees perform. As such, these are workplace injuries and affected workers can file workers’ compensation claims. Our client, a track worker for the Transit Authority, developed weakness on the left side of his body while picking up flags on the tracks. He was admitted to the hospital the next day and was diagnosed with a stroke.
We filed a workers’ compensation claim, arguing that when an injury occurs in the course of employment (while someone is working), the law presumes that it also arose out of the employment (was caused by the work). The Workers’ Compensation Board denied the claim, finding that the worker was required to produce a medical report connecting the stroke to work before going forward with his case.
We appealed the Board’s decision and the Appellate Division, Third Department reversed the Board’s decision, agreeing with our argument that the worker was entitled to the benefit of the legal presumption and that it was the employer’s obligation to produce contrary evidence. The Board later awarded benefits to our client. This is one of a number of cases in which we have preserved and advanced the legal rule that workers who are injured while at work are presumed to be entitled to workers’ compensation unless the employer proves otherwise.