Matter of Pickard:

The Claimants and their families received good news from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board in the form of the Decision handed down in the Matter of Pickard. This case involved a claimant whose husband had a pre-existing heart condition. The claimant’s husband collapsed at work on November 20, 2013 from a heart attack while he assisted a co-worker in removing a gasoline tank. He unfortunately died 3 days later. Subsequently, the claimant filed for Workers’ Compensation benefits as well as for death benefits. Both claims were challenged by the employer and its’ insurance carrier in an attempt to shift the liability to the pre-existing heart condition.

Ultimately, a Workers’ Compensation Judge found that the work activities of the deceased contributed to his heart attack. The carrier appealed this Decision, but it was later upheld by the Board. The Board relied on the medical evidence and hearing testimony in upholding the Decision. The Board also referenced prior cases where a heart injury at work was compensable because the work only needs to be a contributing factor regardless of a pre-existing heart condition.

The decision in Matter of Pickard is important because it makes clear that a pre-existing condition does not prevent a worker who dies or is injured at work from being eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. In this case, the widow and children will collect weekly monetary benefits to help support them after experiencing a terrible tragedy.

—Submitted by Charlemagne Yawn, Esq.