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Workers’ compensation settlements: Fatal claim by suicide

On Behalf of | Aug 12, 2022 | Workers' Compensation |

Attorney Mark R. Schmidt, a Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist, settled the fatal claim of a corrections officer who committed suicide at his home in Delaware County.

The client was the decedent’s mother, living in Florida. Several ‘workers’ compensation lawyers’ declined the case due to a number of very difficult issues. One of those lawyers identified Schmidt as “probably the only lawyer who might pursue a case like that”. Attorney Schmidt even declined the case at first, but a sense of compassion led him to give the matter a second review – and he finally agreed to accept the case. The Workers’ Compensation Act does not allow benefits for self-inflicted injuries (or death). The decedent committed suicide. A little-known case decided just a few years earlier held that a fatal claim may be granted where the decedent’s state of mind was so affected by work-related issues to preclude a rational, intentional decision to commit the fatal act. However, there MUST be a dependent heir of the decedent. The decedent was not married, and had no children. The client was the mother, who was not a dependent. After further questioning, it was discovered that decedent’s brother “might be” a dependent heir. He was disabled and residing in an assisted living facility in Florida. The father of both boys was also terminally ill, rendering mother incapable of providing ongoing financial assistance to her disabled son.

Attorney Schmidt had to obtain evidence:

  • of work-related issues affecting decedent’s ability to think rationally;
  • find a psychiatric expert willing to review the evidence and determine if there was a psychological disorder affecting decedent’s thought;
  • get medical evidence of the brother’s disability and dependence on other’s for support; and finally,
  • find a lawyer in Florida willing and truthfully able to sign an Affidavit of the decedent’s declared intent to assume financial responsibility for his brother.

Schmidt found all of the difficult evidence. The defendant (the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) would still be able to obtain their own evidence and medical experts to challenge claimant’s evidence, and raise a number of legal arguments; but Schmidt was able to negotiate a settlement of the case for a figure representing approximately 7 years’ worth of benefits.

If you have a ‘difficult case’, you NEED a Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist (pursuant to PA Bar Assn and PA Supreme Court requirements) – and one who is willing to take on difficult issues and ‘powerful’ defendants. The Work Injury Specialists at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias are known even by their ‘competitors’ and opposing lawyers to be knowledgeable, aggressive lawyers who will FIGHT for their clients benefits. For a free, no obligation consultation, call us at 610-601-5399 or contact us online.