Anne Dube, the widow of a mechanic who committed suicide after he was fired from his job with National Fiber Technology LLC, has the right to receive death benefits under workers’ compensation. The decision was issued by the Massachusetts Appeals Court in Suffolk County. The court’s ruling affirms the Industrial Accident Reviewing Board’s decision that had been appealed by the Professional Liability Insurance Company.
An administrative judge had awarded Dube death benefits for Gilbert Dube’s work-related back injury, which resulted in pain, deteriorating mental condition, mental unsoundness, and suicide. The board said that Anne Dube was causally connected to the mental unsoundness that was caused by work.
Gilbert Dube was a 50-year-old machine mechanic. He had a history of back problems. He reinjured his back on November 7, 2001 at work when he “jerked” lose a card that had gotten stuck in a knitting machine. On November 26, 2001, he tried to go back to work and assume “light-duty” but was told that there was no light-duty work. He was terminated from his job on December 4, 2001. He killed himself 14 days later.
The board awarded death benefits to Anne Dube.
The insurer appealed the decision saying that the simple causation test to determine the connection between the work-related injury and Gilbert Dube’s suicide was not properly applied. It claimed that being fired, and not the actual work injury, was the predominant cause of the suicide.
The appeals court ruled that the suicide makes Anne Dubbe eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if “simply causally connected to the unsoundness of mind resulting from the injury, without having to show any particular quantity or quality of that cause.”
Workers’ Compensation laws give benefits to employees that are injured in a work-related accident. Workers’ compensation protects both employers and employees. Injured employees receive benefits under the law and, in exchange, the employers cannot be sued for personal injury or wrongful death. The issue of who was negligent does not become an issue.
An employee will usually receive medical benefits and money. The widow or widower of an employer killed at work is also entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Just because you are entitled to those benefits does not mean that the insurance carrier or the employer will try to contest your claim. This is why you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away so that he or she can protect your rights to compensation and make sure your receive all the benefits that you are entitled to.
Mass. Widow Awarded Workers Comp Death Benefits in Suicide Case, Insurance Journal, September 17, 2007
What is Workers’ Compensation
Related Web Resources:
The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, Workers’ Comp: A Massachusetts Guide