Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 674 20
10/07/2020
L. Petrykowski
  • Dependency benefits (death results from an injury)

In January 2012, the worker was sprayed in the face by a chemical. He sustained chemical injury burns to his face and eyes. The worker was able to regain partial vision in his left eye but no vision in his right eye. The worker died in January 2013. The worker's estate appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying survivor benefits.

The cause of the worker's death was listed on the autopsy report as "acute alcohol and mixed drug (oxycodone, codeine, doxylamine) intoxication." The worker's doctor noted that there was no suicide note found and there was no history of prescription drug abuse.
Whether or not the worker intended to cause his death to occur was indeterminate from the documentary record. The clinical record supports the possibilities that these circumstances may have been suicidal or accidental. However, the uncertainty associated with those circumstances was not an impediment to granting survivor benefits so long as there is sufficient evidence that the worker's compensable injuries were a significant contributing factor in his death.
The Vice-Chair found that the worker continued to suffer from his compensable injuries in January 2013. This led him to ingest narcotic analgesics, which were confirmed to be oxycodone and codeine, and an excessive amount of alcohol. The Vice-Chair concluded that injury-related factors were a significant contributing factor to the worker's death.
The estate was entitled to survivor benefits. The appeal was allowed.