Can hypertension be considered a work-related injury? Work-related or occupational injuries are not uncommon in the United States. For example, in 2019, a total of 5,333 workers died in work-related accidents in the U.S. Your line of work determines the danger you face at work and the type of injury you might suffer.

Aside from injuries, there are work-related or occupational illnesses. For instance, respiratory illnesses, some cancer types, and hearing loss are occupational diseases common to factory workers. Similarly, police officers are prone to hypertension and other heart diseases. One study showed that the strenuous duties of emergency responders (firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel) could interact with their personal risk profiles, including elevated blood pressure, to precipitate acute cardiovascular events.

The question many police officers in Maryland ask is whether hypertension falls under a work-related illness. If yes, can they get compensation for it? This article examines the provisions of the law and whether a police officer can get compensated for hypertension. If you suffer this ailment as a police officer in Maryland, contact our workers’ comp lawyers at Pinder Plotin, LLC, to learn about your legal options.

What Does the Maryland Presumption Law for Police Officers Mean? 

Maryland’s workers’ compensation law stipulates that it must be an accidental injury or occupational disease for a person to get compensated for a work injury. An occupational disease is an ailment, disorder, or illness resulting from working under conditions inherent to the employer. To establish occupational disease, the claimant must show that:

  1. They contracted the disease due to the nature of the employment in which the hazards of the disease exist.
  2. That the disease and its symptoms are consistent with those known to result from a given physical, chemical, or biological agent attributed to the employment.

Thus, if a paid police officer employed by the State of Maryland suffers from hypertension, they might be able to get compensation. This is because of the presumption law for police officers. Under the law, it is presumed that a police officer suffering from hypertension developed it in the line of duty. But there’s a condition.

Hypertension must result in permanent or partial disability. However, the presumption frees the police officer of the duty of proving that the hypertension is work-related to their employer. In addition, they are also free of this burden when appearing before the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. Simply put, it does away with the rule of “he who asserts must prove” on the part of the claimant.

This burden shifts to the employer or their insurance company. The employer or their insurer has the onus to prove that the hypertension is not work-related or not-compensable or both. For the employer to do the preceding, they must show that hypertension cannot be linked to the job function of the officer but rather to another source.

One way of doing this is showing that the police officer has some non-work-related stress like family issues or monetary pressures. Also, the employer may hire an expert witness to show that the officer’s hypertension is not work-based. The latter is the last resort and is used only when there are enough facts to back it.

In addition, the employer may assert that hypertension already existed before the individual became a police officer. In conclusion, while the presumption law helps police officers in Maryland get compensation for work-related injuries, it is not irrebuttable. So, you need to work with an experienced Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer to get your benefits.

How Does Disability Affect Work Comp for Hypertension? 

As mentioned earlier, police officers cannot get workers’ comp for hypertension if they did not suffer a disability. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act defines disability as an event that leaves an employee covered by the law wholly or partially disabled. Thus, incapacity manifests in four ways:

  1. Temporary partial incapacitation
  2. Temporary total incapacitation
  3. Permanent total incapacitation
  4. Permanent partial incapacitation

Also, the disability must relate to the police officer’s ability to perform whatever work they engaged in last. Although the definition of incapacity to work seems clear, employers and insurance providers still debate what it means. So, if a police officer has hypertension but does not miss work, they may argue that the person is not entitled to compensation, as there is no disablement. Again, a work comp attorney can help you argue against such claims.

Get Help Today! 

Getting compensation as a police officer with an occupational disease like hypertension is not always straightforward. Your best chance of winning against your employer and their insurance provider is working with an experienced work comp lawyer. At Pinder Plotkin, LLC, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you win. So, call us today for a free case review.

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