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Ohio BWC Rejects Widower's Workers' Comp Claim


The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation has denied benefits to a man who claimed his wife's fatal heart attack was related to her work. The woman died in 2005 after suffering an apparent heart attack in her car. She had parked a block from her place of employment at the Ohio Education Association after finding her handicapped parking spot blocked.

The woman's widower sought workers' compensation benefits from the BWC, claiming his wife's death was caused by overexertion, suggesting that the heart attack was directly related to her employment.

A doctor testified before a judge that the deceased woman had previously undergone coronary surgery and had a pre-existing heart condition that likely contributed to the attack. According to the doctor, the woman also suffered from sleep apnea, high cholesterol, diabetes, reactive airway disease and hypertension. He said that he could not determine what caused the attack, saying that the woman was at risk of having a heart attack at any point. The woman weighed more than 300 pounds and reportedly smoked two packs of cigarettes daily.

The man took the BWC to court after it denied workers' compensation benefits to her estate. A trial court ultimately found that there was not enough evidence to link the woman's death to her work.

The woman's husband appealed the decision, but the appellate court upheld the lower court's finding that pre-existing conditions appeared to be the most likely cause of death.

Trying to understand workers' compensation laws can be a tall order for regular workers. For those attempting to get benefits for a workplace accident, they should consider consulting an attorney who is experienced in workers' compensation litigation.

Source: Business Insurance, "Ohio court rejects comp benefits for widower of obese smoker," Roberto Ceniceros, Feb. 2, 2012