Labor Code 3212 & Heart Presumptions in California

What is the Labor Code 3212?

Labor Code Section 3212 provides for certain law enforcement providers and safety providers that “[t]he heart… trouble… so developing or manifesting itself in those cases shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment. This presumption is disputable and may be controverted by other evidence, but unless so controverted, the appeals board is bound to find in accordance with it. The presumption shall be extended to a member following termination of service for a period of three calendar months for each full year of the requisite service, but not to exceed 60 months in any circumstance, commencing with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity.”

In lay terms, it means that if one develops a heart problem during their employment as a law enforcement provider or safety provider, then the injury is considered to be work-related for workers’ compensation purposes.  This allows the individual to collect all of the workers’ compensation benefits should that problem arise.  Also, there is the non-attribution component of the presumption which eliminates apportionment to non-industrial causes and allows for the holder of the presumption to receive a greater permanent disability award than an individual who could have their award apportioned to non-industrial factors.

For law enforcement providers and safety providers, there are a number of questions that you should investigate if you develop heart problems.

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Does my position at my employer have the heart presumption?

Certain agencies, even though they are law enforcement or safety, do not have the presumption applicable. It is important to check and verify that you have the presumption. Even if you do not have the presumption, you still are able to file and pursue a heart injury case.  The only difference is that you will have the regular burden of proof as opposed to those who benefit from the presumption.

Do I actually have a heart injury?

There is a variety of litigated cases as to what a “heart injury” is. For example, hypertension is generally not considered a heart injury. Therefore, an injury which is only hypertension without heart damage will not be subject to the presumption.  Again, the matter can still be pursued. The provision of benefits will not allow for the evidentiary benefits of the presumption. A heart injury will generally require some form of testing that will show that there is injury to the heart. For example, an echocardiogram or a 24 hour heart monitor would provide evidence of an injury to the heart.  Therefore, testing is important.

Can my presumption be rebutted?

If your employer can prove that the heart problem existed prior to the start of employment, then the presumption can be rebutted. Even if this was the case, a claim can still be pursued under regular workers’ compensation law on the basis that the pre-existing heart condition was aggravated or accelerated by the employment.

If I develop heart problems after I terminate my employment, do I still have the presumption?

The presumption extends for 3 calendar months for each year of service up to 60 months. Therefore, if you have 20 years or more of service, you have the presumption for the maximum period which is 5 years.

Has there been caselaw establishing body parts or conditions for which the heart presumption has applied?

Yes. Here is a list of some of the body parts and conditions for which there has been caselaw finding that the presumption applies. The fact that the presumption is applicable does not necessarily mean that the presumption cannot be rebutted. Any presumption case should be analyzed based upon its own particular facts.

Arrhythmias: Parish vs. WCAB (1989) 54 C.C.C. 155; City of Huntington Beach v. WCAB (2016) 81 C.C.C. 740

Artherosclerosis of the Coronary Artery Valvular Lesions and scarring due to Rheumatic Fever: State Employees’ Retirement System v. W.C.A.B., 267 Cal.App.2d 611

Arteriosclerosis that develops or manifests in arteries in the heart: Kimber v. City of Los Angeles, (2017) 82 C.C.C. 1538

Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease or Coronary Artery Disease: Gillette v. W.C.A.B. 20 Cal.App.3d 312; Bussa v. W.C.A.B., 259 Cal.App.2d 261; Turner v. W.C.A.B. 258 Cal.App.2d 442

Acute and Chronic Arteriosclerotic Occlusive Disease in the iliac arteries: Stephens v. W.C.A.B. 20 Cal.App.3d 461

Atrial Fibrillation: City of Huntington Beach v. WCAB (2016) 81 C.C.C. 740

Atrial Flutter: City of Huntington Beach v. WCAB (2016) 81 C.C.C. 740

Cardiac Arrythymia: City of Huntington Beach v. WCAB (2016) 81 C.C.C. 740

Cardiomyopathy: City and County of San Francisco vs. WCAB (1997) 62 C.C.C. 1271 (writ denied)

Congenital Heart Condition:  In City of Oakland, presumption was found when there was a patent foramen ovale, an opening in the wall of the Applicant’s heart present since his birth. His pre-employment physical was within normal limits, and he had no prior awareness of his congenital heart condition. City of Oakland, PSI v. W.C.A.B. (2012) 77 C.C.C. 819

Coronary Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease: Muznik v. W.C.A.B., 40 C.C.C.578

Coronary Artery Disease: Muznik v. W.C.A.B., 40 C.C.C.578

Coronary Heart Disease: Yubeta v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd., (2011) 76 C.C.C. 1119 (writ denied)

Enlarged Heart: City & County of San Francisco v. W.C.A.B. (2011) 76 C.C.C.256 (writ denied)

Heart Attack diagnosed as heart insufficiency: Ferris v. I.A.C., 237 Cal.App.2d 427

Heart Valve: A congenitally defective bicuspid valve was found to be afforded the presumption. County of Ventura vs. WCAB (1986) 51 C.C.C. 80

Hypertensive Cardiomyopathy: County of Riverside v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd., (2016) 81 C.C.C.1031 (writ denied)

Hypertensive Cardiovascular Disease: Department of Corrections vs. WCAB (2008) 73 C.C.C. 1443

Hypertensive Heart Disease: City of Pasadena, PSI v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2012) 77 C.C.C. 822

Left Ventricular Hypertrophy:  Mild degree of reversible left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) City of Sacramento v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd.(2012) 77 C.C.C. 991

Mild Hypertrophy of left ventricle of Heart: City of Hayward vs. WCAB (2006) 71 C.C.C. 1638.

Mitral Heart Valve: County of Ventura vs. WCAB (1991) 57 C.C.C. 6 (writ denied)

Premature Ventricular Contractions: PVC qualified for the heart trouble presumption in Silvestri. It was noted that PVC’s are an arrhythmia and constitute “abnormal heart activity’ Silvestri vs. County of El Dorado 2018 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 78 (Panel Decision)

Tumor in Left Atrium: County of Sonoma vs. WCAB (1977) 62 C.C.C.1150 (writ denied)

Valvular Lesions: Valvular lesions and scarring due to rheumatic fever State Employees’ Retirement System v. W.C.A.B., 267 Cal.App.2d 611

Where Can I Get Legal Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 26 years. Contact us today for more information.

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