$350,000 Awarded in Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits
In Connecticut, the wife or husband of an employee who dies as a result of a work injury is entitled to recover workers’ compensation benefits for life or until he or she remarries. Due to this law, Tremont Sheldon P.C. has been able to favorably resolve a number of these cases for substantial amounts, even when it was difficult, if not impossible, to prove how the death occurred or its relationship to the employment. A good example of such an outcome is a case that Attorney Bob Sheldon of our office recently settled.
The decedent was 45 years of age at the time of his death. He was married and had three children. He was a very good wage earner and his family was dependent upon him. In early June, 2008 the decedent left on a business trip to South America for his employer. Approximately two weeks later he developed symptoms of abdominal pain, dark diarrhea, and vomiting. After attempts to self-treat for one day proved unsuccessful, he was admitted to a hospital. Examination at the hospital revealed him to be in a generally bad state, with diffuse abdominal pain upon palpation and generalized tremors. He was diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis, a condition that is usually caused by infection from contaminated food or water or travel in areas of poor sanitation.
Gastroenteritis suffered by adults is generally not life-threatening and responds well to treatment. The client’s husband did improve with treatment (hydration, antibiotics, and pain medication) over the next two days and was up and walking around on the morning that he died. Several hours later, however, he was found in his room unconscious and not breathing. Efforts to resuscitate him were not successful.
Despite extensive investigation, the actual source of the decedent’s infection could not be determined. Attorney Sheldon hired an independent expert to review the medical and autopsy records. The expert concluded that the death was more likely than not due to a sudden event, such as cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac ischemia, not gastroenteritis, given the resolution of the symptoms of that condition. An independent expert hired by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier agreed with this analysis, finding that the death was not causally related to the decedent’s employment.
Notwithstanding the substantial factual, medical, and legal roadblocks that he faced, Attorney Sheldon was able, after numerous hearings and considerable negotiation, to resolve the matter for the client for $350,000. This was a tremendous result for a very grateful client and her family.