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Appellate Court Questions Whether Injuries Led to Suicide in Claimant’s Husband


In this case before the Court of Appeals of New York the court is presented with the question of whether there is a connection between the suicide of the claimant’s husband and the physical injuries he sustained five and fourteen years before he committed suicide.

Case Background

The accidents that the claimant’s husband sustained depressed him greatly and have been found to be the cause of him choosing to take his own life some years later. The decedent left a suicide note before overdosing on barbiturates. The Workers Compensation board has found as a fact that he committed suicide.

The Workers Compensation laws state that death benefits are only allowed if the injury results naturally and unavoidably in disease and the disease causes the death. In this particular case there was no psychosis or brain damage noted in the decedent.

The accidents that the decedent was involved in caused a back injury and a cerebral concussion. There was no medical documentation for four years after the head injury. He stated that he had headaches and fainting spells but his prior medical history showed that he had headaches before the accident as well.

Court Discussion and Decision

The causes of suicide are complex and varied. It has been established that melancholy and other sane conditions are not enough to void the mandate section of the Workers Compensation Law. In this case there is no proof of insanity or severe mental damage. In this case, it is felt that the order should be reversed and the claim should be dismissed.

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