The heart attack of a cabin crew member after finishing her shift is considered a workplace accident

Judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on 1 December 2017 [JUR\2018\15977]

The jurisprudential criterion followed to date is the following: the fact that the contraction of the disease occurred at work does not mean that the contingency should be declared a work-place accident.

However, the referenced doctrinal line has been crossed in certain cases depending on the special circumstances. The reasons underpinning these decisions are, on the one hand, the uniqueness of the professional work developed by those affected, which requires them to permanently move as a way of fulfilling the rendering of services, and, on the other hand, the specific circumstances under which the crisis arose, which enables to establish a direct and necessary connection between the activity carried out at the time they suffered the attack and the time and place of work.

In this sense, the Supreme Court considers that both reasons are recognized in the case analyzed case. Firstly, the employee’s work, in the framework of the tasks entrusted by the company, consisted of scheduled flight services to geographically dispersed areas without a fix location. Secondly, at the time she suffered the heart attack, twenty minutes after finishing her shift and being at the airport to which she had been temporarily assigned, the worker remained at the company’s facilities and in her uniform to then move to the place where she was staying; this shows the existence of a direct and necessary link between the situation insofar as where she was when she suffered the heart attack and the time and place of work.

In view of the above, there is no circumstance unequivocally proving the rupture of the causal relationship between the work and the vascular episode suffered by the employee –for the triggering of which the occurrence of factors related to the activity performed on the day it occurred (provision of services on four commercial flights and a simulated flight, all within a period of 8 hours) cannot be ruled out– in the context of displacement likely to increase work stress.

For all the above, the Supreme Court considers that this contingency determining the situation of total permanent disability must be classified as a work-place accident.