When a worker is killed while performing his work tasks, there is no question that Georgia law allows eligible surviving family members to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. In some cases, however, the work injury is not necessarily the immediate cause of the death. This may occur when a worker loses his life while undergoing treatment for the work injury. For example, the worker could die to complications of back surgery to repair problems with his back that developed at work or could die of side effects of a drug he must take to manage the pain of his workplace injuries.
When a worker is killed because of the treatments for his workplace injury, it can become more complicated to determine if the injury is work-related and should thus make the surviving family members eligible for death benefits. An Atlanta workplace fatality lawyer can provide assistance to family members in determining if they have a case for death benefits. Parsons & Associates P.C. can help family members to make their case, appeal a denial, and fight for the death benefits they deserve when a fatality is connected to a work injury.
Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits After Death During Treatment
Safety News Alert reported on one case in which a widow sought workers’ compensation death benefits when her husband was killed. Her husband had fallen eight to 10 feet while doing work as a carpenter. His fall caused him to sustain injuries to his back, head, and neck. The fall occurred in September of 2008.
His workers’ compensation doctor prescribed him the antidepressant Elavil, as well as Neurontin and Vicodin for pain relief. Even with this medications, however, he was not sleeping well. His personal physician subsequently gave him a prescription for Xanax to help him get to sleep.
In September of 2009, his wife was unable to wake him and called paramedics. He was pronounced dead from a drug overdose, and an autopsy report indicated that death was accidental and occurred due to the effect of four toxic drugs in his blood coupled with associated early pneumonia. The drugs he was taking separately and in combination had the possibility of causing respiratory depression and respiratory arrest.
It was undisputed that the death occurred because of the combination of the drugs, and his wife sought workers’ compensation death benefits, claiming that the overdose was a direct result of his work-related injuries and the treatment he was undergoing.
Although there was a dispute over whether the problems were caused by the medications prescribed by the workers’ compensation physician or by his personal physician, death benefits were ultimately awarded to the widow. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court in California, the state where the incident took place. The court determined that because the drugs prescribed for the workplace injury were contributing factor, death benefits should be paid through workers’ compensation.
In Georgia, death benefits are also available in any situations where a work injury led to a fatality. Whether a worker’s family can receive benefits if the death occurred due to treatment is going to depend upon the specifics of the case. An Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney can provide assistance to family members in seeking benefits after a fatality.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.