Desire to relieve pain from work injury supports claim for overdose
Kenbenco d/b/a Benson Steel, 111 NYWCLR 220 (N.Y.W.C.B. 2011).
Ruling: The New York Workers' Compensation Board found that a worker's use of medication prescribed as a result of his work-related back condition contributed to his death.
What it means: In New York, a worker's death resulting from an accidental overdose taken to relieve a condition caused by a work-related accident can be compensable.
Summary: A worker was prescribed oxycodone and hydrocodone for his compensable back condition. He was also prescribed Xanax. He died suddenly, and his son claimed entitlement to death benefits.
The board found that the worker's use of medication prescribed as a result of his work-related back condition contributed to his death. His death certificate indicated that he died as a result of a cardiac arrhythmia. A forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy said that the worker's death was brought about by an overdose of oxycodone, hydrocodone, and Xanax.
The pathologist also concluded that oxycodone was injected into the worker's arm which resulted in a higher concentration in his body. The three medications acted in concert to bring about his death.
It was irrelevant that the worker's process of ingestion was not legal or medically recommended. The board noted that the night before his death, he complained to his neighbors about his pain and his plan to see his physician. The evidence showed that the overdose resulted from his desire to relieve the pain brought about by his work-related back injury.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
January 12, 2012
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