Orlando Firefighter Awarded 85 Weeks of Impairment Income Benefits

April 2, 2012

On March 30, 2012, an Orlando Judge of Compensation Claims awarded 56 year-old firefighter a 25% permanent impairment rating and ordered the workers' compensation carrier to pay Miller 85 weeks of impairment income benefits.

Employed with Orange County Fire & Rescue since 1985, the claimant suffered heart palpitations in 2007 resulting in hospitalization and treatment with a local cardiologist. Several diagnostic studies confirmed a diagnosis of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.

The claimant, who was released from the hospital with prescriptions for Coumadin and Digoxin, filed a claim with the Fire Department's workers' compensation insurance carrier. The carrier denied the claim and Miller returned to work and stopped taking the medications.

The claimant suffered a second episode at work approximately two years later in the summer of 2009. He was admitted to a local hospital for several days while doctors tested his heart and monitored his condition. The claimant was again released with medications after conflicting diagnostic studies as to the paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The claimant filed a new workers' compensation claim and on this occasion the workers' compensation insurance carrier agreed to accept compensability and provide benefits.

Dr. Michael A. Nocero, a board certified cardiologist, was authorized to provide care. Following his examination Dr. Nocero confirmed the paroxysmal atrial fibrillation diagnosis, prescribed new medications and returned Miller to work. In deposition, Dr. Nocero testified he found no evidence of valvular heart disease, hypertension, cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease.

The claimant received regular EKG's every six months for the next two years with normal results. Dr. Norcero prescribed Sotalol, an antiarrythmic that helps the heart produce a regular sinus rhythm. However, the claimant testified that even with the medically necessary medication he continued to experience heart palpitations and heart irregularity.

The Judge of Compensation Claims found that the claimant's condition was caused by his work activity and that he would have to continue taking the medication prescribed by Dr. Nocero as this condition is generally not curable without surgery, which was not recommended, and that the condition would progress requiring higher doses of medication and a general change of lifestyle.

Based on the above findings, the Judge of Compensation Claims utilized the 1996 Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Ratings Schedule and found that Section 8 controls the percentage of impairment assignable to this condition. Based on the diagnostic testing, continued use of medication, breakthrough palpitations and change in diet and activity, the Judge assigned a 25% permanent impairment rating and ordered the workers' compensation insurance company to pay 85 weeks of benefits.

If you, or anyone you know, has suffered a work place injury, call an experienced and dedicated workers' compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Franks & Koenig for a free and confidential consultation today.



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