HEART/LUNG STATUTE

The Heart/Lung Statute creates a presumption that hypertension, heart disease and tuberculosis are work-related as a matter of law when suffered by firefighters and law enforcement and corrections officers meeting certain prerequisites, regardless of the actual cause of the condition and whether the condition occurred on or off duty. Employers and insurance carriers often wrongfully deny these claims. Know your rights. Call or e-mail Bichler, Oliver, Longo & Fox with any questions related to these claims.

The Heart/Lung Statute reads:

(1)(a) Any condition or impairment of health of any Florida state, municipal, county, port authority, special tax district, or fire control district firefighter or any law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer as defined in s. 943.10(1), (2), or (3) caused by tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in total or partial disability or death shall be presumed to have been accidental and to have been suffered in the line of duty unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence. However, any such firefighter or law enforcement officer must have successfully passed a physical examination upon entering into any such service as a firefighter or law enforcement officer, which examination failed to reveal any evidence of any such condition. Such presumption does not apply to benefits payable under or granted in a policy of life insurance or disability insurance, unless the insurer and insured have negotiated for such additional benefits to be included in the policy contract.

(b) 1. For any workers' compensation claim filed under this section and chapter 440 occurring on or after July 1, 2010, a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer as defined in s. 943. 10(1), (2), or (3) suffering from tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension is presumed not to have incurred such disease in the line of duty as provided in this section if the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer:

a. Departed in a material fashion from the prescribed course of treatment of his or her personal physician and the departure is demonstrated to have resulted in a significant aggravation of the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in disability or increasing the disability or need for medical treatment; or

b. Was previously compensated pursuant to this section and chapter 440 for tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension and thereafter sustains and reports a new compensable workers' compensation claim under this section and chapter 440, and the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer has departed in a material fashion from the prescribed course of treatment of an authorized physician for the preexisting workers' compensation claim and the departure is demonstrated to have resulted in a significant aggravation of the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in disability or increasing the disability or need for medical treatment.

2. As used in this paragraph, “prescribed course of treatment” means prescribed medical courses of action and prescribed medicines for the specific disease or diseases claimed and as documented in the prescribing physician's medical records.

3. If there is a dispute as to the appropriateness of the course of treatment prescribed by a physician under sub-subparagraph 1.a. or sub-subparagraph 1.b. or whether a departure in a material fashion from the prescribed course of treatment is demonstrated to have resulted in a significant aggravation of the tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in disability or increasing the disability or need for medical treatment, the law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer is entitled to seek an independent medical examination pursuant to s. 440.13(5).

4. A law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or correctional probation officer is not entitled to the presumption provided in this section unless a claim for benefits is made prior to or within 180 days after leaving the employment of the employing agency.

(2) This section authorizes each governmental entity specified in subsection (1) to negotiate policy contracts for life and disability insurance to include accidental death benefits or double indemnity coverage which shall include the presumption that any condition or impairment of health of any firefighter, law enforcement officer, or correctional officer caused by tuberculosis, heart disease, or hypertension resulting in total or partial disability or death was accidental and suffered in the line of duty, unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence.


Call Toll Free (866) 245-8977

         
ORLANDO: 541 S. Orlando Ave., Suite 310, Maitland, FL 32751
TAMPA: 13031 W. Linebaugh Ave., Suite 102, Tampa, FL 33626
MIAMI: 1108 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33134
JACKSONVILLE: 4811 Beach Blvd, Suite 204, Jacksonville, FL 32207
PALM BEACH: 420 US Highway 1, Suite 15, North Palm Beach, FL 33408