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Suicide & Workers Compensation

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Yesterday, we received a call about our workers compensation client who was struggling with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) and depression. He shot himself over the weekend. Our sympathy goes out to his loved ones.
We represented this client for over five years in both New York workers compensation and social security disability claims. We successfully fought to get him special authorization for surgery at Yale University Medical Center and psychiatric treatment. We won his social security case.
Tragedies like this one are a real kick in the gut to the lawyers and paralegals in our firm who inevitably got to know this individual well. We now have the unenviable task of filing a suicide death claim on behalf of the widow, a claim which is allowed in New York under circumstances like this.
Suicide among workers compensation claimants is rarely talked about. Over 30,000 Americans a year commit suicide. Over the last ten years, our firm has successfully litigated four suicide cases which were the result of claimant’s original work related injuries. These cases all seem to follow an eerily familiar course: 1) person has severe injury on the job, 2) lives in agonizing pain, 3) loses job, 4) can’t live on workers compensation alone, 5) loses home, 6) gets depressed and 7) commits suicide. We, as advocates for injured and disabled workers, must continue to convince courts and insurance carriers that psychological injuries can be just as devastating as physical ones.

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