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Workers' compensation death benefits approved by North Carolina court

An airline worker's death caused by methadone toxicity has been connected to the injury he suffered while lifting bags for an airline.

An appellate court recently ruled that the 2008 death of the North Carolina man was directly related to the methadone prescription he received for pain. The court also ruled that his widow is entitled to workers' compensation death benefits.

U.S. Airways, the airline the man worked for, appealed the initial ruling from the North Carolina Industrial Commission that granted death benefits of $550 a week to the man's wife. The airline argued that the worker's death was not related to the injury he sustained as an employee, but actually was caused by a fatty liver disease which prevented him from metabolizing the methadone properly. The airline argued that because he could not properly metabolize the medication, the doctors had to prescribe increased dosages. Their opinion is that the increase in medication is what caused the toxicity and ultimately, the man's death.

The man's doctor testified in court that he never abused his methadone prescription, and the man's widow testified her husband was always careful about taking his medication.

The appeals court ruled that because the methadone was prescribed as a result of an injury that occurred while the man was working, workers' compensation death benefits were due.

A person injured on the job may be eligible to seek compensation for lost wages, and may want seek out legal advice to help them file a claim. Although the process of filing for workers' compensation benefits can be daunting, seeking assistance may help an injured worker receive all of the benefits due.

Source: Business Insurance, "Workers comp benefits OK'd for opioid treatment-related death," Sheena Harrison, Dec. 23, 2011

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