Workplace Death Nets Surviving Spouse Almost One Million Dollars.

A 63-year old construction worker fell through the roof of a building while performing demolition work.  He died five hours later at a hospital.  The state (OH) Workers' Compensation Bureau granted the surviving widow death benefits, but she later sought benefits based on her husband's loss of the use of his arms, legs, eyes and ears in the time period between the fall and his death.  Her claim was largely based on testimony of a doctor who testified that her husband had lost the use of those body parts for the time period before his death.  A Workers' Compensation panel awarded the widow 23.5 years worth of permanent partial disability benefits totaling $959,175, which was the cumulative benefits for the loss of her husband's various body parts.  The employer appealed the award, claiming that OH law would limit the award to one week of benefits based on the short timeframe that he lived after the fall.  The court upheld the award on the basis that OH law bases an award for partial disability benefits on the life expectancy of the surviving spouse and dependents rather than the life expectancy of the decedent.  Arberia v. Industrial Commission of Ohio, No. 13AP-1024, 2014 Ohio App. LEXIS 5177 (Ohio Ct. App. Dec. 4, 2014).

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