Fatal Blood Clot Caused by Desk Job, Workers’ Comp Board Finds

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On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Jersey court of appeals decision could have consequences in future cases where a worker at a desk job is sickened or even killed due to the sedentary nature of the work. The board found that the widower of a woman who died of a blood clot in her lung shortly after completing an all-night project for AT&T deserved compensation for the death, since her work likely caused or exacerbated her condition.

The woman worked for AT&T for 25 years. At the time of her death in 2007, she was working as a manager. She spent the night in her home office working on a project. About an hour later, the clot traveled to her lung, killing her.

The woman was only 47 when she died. At trial and on appeal, AT&T contended that outside factors contributed to her death. For example, the company argued, the employee was obese and took birth control pills. It also accused her of living a sedentary lifestyle outside of work.

But the trial court agreed with a doctor who testified on the plaintiff’s behalf. The doctor concluded that the blood clot developed in one of her legs as she worked that night. Blood clots can develop quickly, within a matter of hours, and can travel up into the lungs, where it can cause a blockage in an artery. The pressure to finish the project by the next morning appeared to prevent her from getting up and walking around, which can help prevent clots from forming.

The case is unusual for a white-collar workers’ compensation claim, many of which are related to repetitive-stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. It remains to be seen if more people who were injured by working while sitting in one spot for too long will come forward in the wake of this case.

Source: NJ.com, “Court rules husband of Edison AT&T worker who died from blood clot entitled to workers’ compensation,” Christopher Baxter, June 27, 2011


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