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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pulmonary Embolism Held to Be A Vascular Disease

The NJ Appellate Division held that a pulmonary embolism was a vascular disease and not compensable under the NJ occupational disease provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act. The Court distinguished the medical event from an occupational exposure. Vascular disease are governed by a more stringent standard (NJSA34:15-72).

In reversing the trial court the Appellate Division, held that 5 elements need to be present to prove an occupational condition:

"From our review of the history and application of Section 31, we extrapolate five common themes of occupational disease claims. First, the employee is exposed to conditions that would be viewed as creating a likely risk of injury. Second, there is continued exposure to the work conditions. Third, there is an inherent hazard of continued exposure to the conditions. Fourth, there is attached to that job a hazard that distinguishes it from the usual run of occupations. Fifth, the claim is made because of long-term exposure, not because of one specific event."

The Court distinguished the episode from an "occupational heart condition" which the NJ Supreme Court ruled was compensable condition in Fiore. That condition was a hybrid compensable condition crafted between the standards of NJSA 34:15-31 and NJSA 34:15-7.

Renner v. ATT Docket No. A-3237-09T3, 2010 WL 4811913 (N.J.Super.A.D. 2010)