Workers' Compensation

Delaware: Police Officer’s Cardiac Symptoms Caused By Preexisting Condition—Not Burglary Investigation

The Supreme Court of Delaware recently affirmed a Superior Court order that in turn affirmed an Industrial Accident Board decision denying a police officer’s petition for compensation arising from an alleged work-related injury.  The IAB and Superior Court found that the officer’s cardiac injuries were caused by his preexisting severe coronary artery disease, and not by the burglary investigation he had conducted in the scope of his employment.  Noting that the officer experienced chest pains as he sped to the scene of a reported burglary, that the pain subsided later that day but reappeared three days later when he lifted a laundry basket at his home, the high court indicated that the evidence supported the IAB's finding that the officer's cardiac symptoms were caused by his severe preexisting coronary artery disease, and not by the burglary investigation. Even if the IAB erred by not choosing which test—the "but for" or the "substantial factor" test—was applicable, the error was harmless, because under either test the IAB found that the officer had not established causation for his cardiac injuries. 

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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See Sommers v. New Castle County, 2013 Del. LEXIS 339 (July 9, 2013) [2013 Del. LEXIS 339 (July 9, 2013)].

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 94.02 [94.02].

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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