Pennsylvania workers may be interested to know that an appeals board has upheld a workers' compensation judge's decision finding in favor of a widow whose husband was killed in a workplace accident. The man's employer had appealed the judge's decision, saying his death was, in fact, a suicide. Under Pennsylvania law, the employer must prove the injury was self-inflicted.
The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Appeal Board found that the workers' compensation judge did not err when ruling the accident was work-related. The board noted the coroner's report and a forensic consultant, which both said the man's death, deemed to be positional asphyxiation, was an accident. The man died after his head became stuck in an extension ladder he was using as part of his job. Witnesses also testified the man had not seemed to be depressed or suicidal on the day of the accident.
The appeal board said no evidence was presented that indicated the man's death was not an accident. The board said, therefore, it did not see any reason to overturn the judge's ruling, thus granting survivor benefits to the man's widow.
Pennsylvania workers are entitled to safe working conditions, but accidents do happen. People get hurt and are sometimes killed. Pennsylvania offers workers' compensation benefits, which includes medical expenses and lost wages, to employees who are injured on the job and death and survivor's benefits to families of those killed. Sometimes, however, benefits may be denied, perhaps because an employer disputes the cause of the accident. A workers' compensation attorney may be able to help injured workers or their survivors get those benefits by being their advocate to the state agency and, if necessary, bringing a lawsuit.
Source: Risk and Insurance, "Widow proves mechanic's suffocation death was work-related", October 21, 2013