First Responders Wrongfully Denied Florida Workers’s Compensation Benefits Based on Risk Factor Defense
Florida First Responders automatically assume that once they can show they are entitled to the Florida Heart/Lung Presumption they get Florida workers compensation benefits. Wrong! That is one of the first myths Florida workers’ compensation attorneyr Nancy Cavey will discuss with you and how that myth impacts your rights to lost wages and medical treatment.
You get the benefit of the presumption once you have shown the presumption actually applies. Then, the burden shifts to your employer to present evidence that rebuts or overcomes that presumption. One of the common defenses raised to First Responder Florida Workers Compensation Claims under F.S. 112.18 is that the first responder has a pre-existing conditions or other personal risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease.
In Punsky v. Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the First District ruled that Clay County Sheriffs Office did not meet the burden in rebutting the presumption “because they did not provide evidence of a specific non-occupational cause of claimants heart disease… Testimony given by the E/C’s experts that Claimant would have had a heart attack no matter what job he was employed in shows only that the doctors believed the heart attack and, by inference, the heart disease which caused it, were not caused by the job, not that there was another specific cause identified. Such testimony does not rebut the presumption.”
The Court went on to say that “while the E/C’s experts did give various opinions as to the risk factors apparent from the claimant’s medical history, one of which was his pre-existing condition, risk factors do not amount to causation”
This decision should eliminate the risk factor defense used to deny Florida Workers Compensation benefits to First Responders.
If you have any questions about your Florida First Responder Worker’s compensation claim, contact Nancy Cavey, who is a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation attorney in St. Petersburg. Florida. She offers assistance to First Responders throughout the State of Florida.
Answering these broad-based questions isn’t easy. Help is a phone call away. You can contact Nancy Cavey, an experienced long-term disability attorney at 727-894-3188.