The “Heart Cases” in Workmen’s Compensation: an Analysis and Suggested Solution

It is one of the great tragedies of the workmen’s compensation story that almost all courts, in their perfectly justifiable search for a legal barrier that would keep compensation heart liability from getting out of hand, have seized upon the wrong component in the coverage formula. The words “by accident” or their equivalent were pressed into service for this task, ·and they have proved to be a most ill-fitting tool for this function. If the courts had followed the more logical course of testing these cases by the causal principle prescribed by the words “arising out of the employment,” there would still have been difficult evidentiary questions of medical causation, but we would have been spared the Niagara of intricate and frustrating decisions that have struggled with the intellectually unmanageable question: When does a heart attack occur by accident?