Illness from Excessive Heat Probably Not Work Comp

By Jason Weinstock on July 7, 2012

Given the 114 degree heat this week, I’ve had several calls from  people wanting to know  whether illnesses caused by excessive heat while working outdoors are compensable.  The law in Nevada has not been supportive of injury or illness claims arising out of all job conditions. 

In 1960, the Nevada Supreme Court held in Smith v. Garside, 76 Nev. 377, that a printing plant worker who got a chest infection, which later developed into a more serious illness, did not have a compensable occupational disease or injury claim.  The worker alleged that she got sick because her employer did not properly heat her workkplace.  The court held that her illness caused by exposure to the cold work building was not "incidental to the character of the business",  and  because her illness "could have been from a hazard to which she would have been equally exposed outside of the employment." 

This old case was cited by the Nevada Supreme Court most recently in 1992 in Palmer v. Del Webb, 108 Nev. 673. Palmer was a gaming pit boss who contracted obstructive lung deasese from the smoke-filled casino where he worked.  The Court likewise ruled that Palmer did not have a compensabe occupational disease because the smokey environment was not incidental to the  casino  business and the claimant  could have been equally exoped to second-hand smoke when not at work.

If a construction worker gets heat stroke from working in the hot July sun in Las Vegas, will his claim be accepted?  If the claim consists of just one visit to a workers’ comp provider, my experience is that the ajuster will probably pay for that doctors’ visit.  However, if one  ER visit turns into something more seriouos, then the claim will probably be denied

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