The symptoms of the ischemic stroke began before the employee, doctor by profession, arrived to work. Therefore the Supreme Court considers that the temporary disability suffered by the employee is owed to a common illness.

Judgement delivered by the Supreme Court on 4 April 2018 [JUR\2018\125874]

The judgement analyses if the ischemic stroke suffered should be considered a work-related or non-work-related illness based on the following proven facts: 1) the employee provided service as a doctor at a health centre. 2) When trying to get out of bed, she noticed a loss of strength in her legs and fell. 3) She also noticed she had difficulty speaking, with her face contorted to the right. 4) Once at her workplace, she had to return home to rest. 5) Upon feeling worse, she called emergency services and was transferred to hospital where she diagnosed her with an ischemic stroke.

At first, the Labour Court dismissed the claim of the employee, who requested that the process of temporary disability initiated on said date be declared as arising from a workplace accident. The judgement argued that, in accordance with the evidence collected, the employee suffered a cerebral stroke whose symptoms began at home. Therefore, as the illness did not begin during working hours or at the workplace, the legal presumption cannot be judged. The resolution of the National Social Security which qualified the temporary disability of vascular accident as a result of a non-work-related illness must be declared legal.

Appealing the first instance judgement, the Labour Division of the High Court of Justice considered the appeal arguing that, even though the first symptoms of the illness began at the employee’s home, they later subsided to the point of allowing her to go to work and it was there where she began to feel ill again, requiring her to leave.

For the Supreme Court, the symptoms began to appear at the employee’s home, when the employee noticed a loss of strength in her legs, she fell to the ground and had difficulty speaking, with her face contorting to the right. 

Such symptoms should have caused the employee -a doctor by profession- to suspect a possible vascular accident. Thus she should have called the emergency department at that moment. In contrast and imprudently, she went to her workplace where it does not appear she performed any work. She returned home due to feeling ill and from there called emergency services, who transferred her to hospital where she was diagnosed with a brain embolism with an ischemic stroke.

From these given facts, none of the elements necessary for a workplace accident to occur appear to be present: during work hours or at the workplace, given the illness suddenly occurred at her home and she later went to work, which had nothing to do with the appearance of an illness which had already begun. Nor is it significant that the work performed were a cause of the cerebral-vascular illness. Therefore no causality should be considered. 

Ultimately, the Court understands that this is not an event in which the illness had manifested during work hours or at the workplace, regardless if the illness had a prior origin or not. We are facing an even in which the appearance of the illness occurred in the home of the employee, which completely and absolutely prevents any legal presumption of a workplace accident. 

Nor does it appear that her subsequently going to work -which, undoubtedly, may be qualified as completely imprudent for a medical professional- had any impact on the origin of the illness, nor on its subsequent development.

Therefore the Supreme Court, though with a dissenting vote- considers that the temporary disability suffered by the employee is owed to a non-work-related illness.