Combination of industrial and nonindustrial drugs caused applicant’s death to be work related

This is a published supreme court case

This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.

The applicant suffered neck and back injuries as well as a concussion from a fall that was industrial related. The applicant was prescribed medications industrially and non industrially.

The applicant died from a combination of the drugs. The widow filed for death benefits. The Qualified Medical Examiner (QME) determined the applicant died solely from medications prescribed by his personal physician not his workers’ compensation physician.

In deposition the QME indicated that the personal physician medications may have played a small role in the death.

The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) ruled the death industrial related. The Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) agreed with the WCJ. The Court of Appeal reversed indicating there was no substantial evidence.

The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal finding the death industrial related. The court reviewed cause in fact and proximate cause. It indicated the workers’ compensation system is not based upon fault. It then reviewed substantial evidence and the contributing cause factor. The court reviewed numerous cases and statutes. Here there was substantial evidence that the drugs prescribed for the industrial injury contributed to the death. Therefore, the death was industrial.

Case: South Coast Framing, Inc. v. WCAB (Clark)

Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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