Florida Work Comp Can Cover Heart Disease, Hypertension and Tuberculosis For First Responders

police carWhile most people understand the basics of workers’ comp, many are still surprised to find out Florida’s police officers, fire fighters, and correctional officers who suffer with certain heart related diseases or tuberculosis can be covered under work comp. Commonly referred to as the Heart/Lung Bill, Florida Statute §112.18 describes certain situations where work comp coverage (lost wages and payment of medical expenses) is available for police officers, fire fighters, and correctional officers with a disability resulting from heart disease, high blood pressure, or tuberculosis.

The statute provides that police officers, firefighters and corrections officers have a rebuttable presumption that their heart, blood pressure or TB condition was caused by their employment if four (4) basic conditions are met:

(1) The worker is a police officer, firefighter or correctional officer as defined in Chapter 112, Florida Statutes;

(2) The worker has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, heart disease or hypertension (high blood pressure);

(3) The worker passed a pre-employment physical; and

(4) There is some disability (partial or total) resulting from the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension.

A rebuttable presumption given by the statute simply means the heart/lung condition is presumed to be caused by the work activity. The worker does not have to come up with proof that it is related. The burden is shifted to the employer to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the heart condition or tuberculosis is more likely related to something other than the work activity (like smoking, viruses, obesity, etc.). This shifting of the burden of proof to the employer is done in recognition of the dangers these workers face and the impact such threatened dangers can have on health.

While this law sounds pretty straight forward at first, the application is more confusing, especially surrounding the coverage of heart disease and hypertension and what constitutes a disability as anticipated by the statute. For instance, other conditions have been found to be covered as well because such conditions were the direct result of hypertension (renal disease, peripheral artery disease, certain types of strokes, etc.). Additionally, being unable to work for one day may constitute a disability for purposes of satisfying the fourth condition above.

The workers’ compensation attorneys with Syfrett, Dykes & Furr are experienced with Florida Heart/Lung cases and can answer your questions regarding whether a condition is likely to be covered under workers’ compensation. Feel free to give us a call – {F:P:Site:Phone}.

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