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NC Workers’ Compensation Benefits Awarded after Painkiller Death


Posted on Jan 30, 2012

The North Carolina Court of Appeals made an interesting decision this week regarding workers’ compensation death benefits and a fatal drug reaction linked to a work injury.

On-the-Job Back Injuries

In 2000, Curry Shaw injured his back while lifting luggage during his employment with US Airways. Four years later, the worker was prescribed methadone to combat back pain that resulted from the on-the-job injury. Over the following four years, evidence showed that Shaw didn’t abuse or overuse his prescription, though his doctor increased dosages several times. Shaw began to suffer from fatty liver disease and ultimately died of his body’s reaction to the drug.

NC Workers' Comp Death Benefits

Following his death, the North Carolina Industrial Commission awarded his wife $550 in weekly workers’ compensation death benefits. US Airways appealed the decision, but the appellate court ruled this week that since Shaw took the medication because of his back injury and since the medication was a key factor in his death, his death was connected to his work injury “to a reasonable degree”. The airline originally argued that the man’s death was solely attributed to his liver disease.

Do you have a question about a North Carolina workers’ compensation death benefits case? Speak to a Raleigh worker injury attorney at Brent Adams & Associates today. 800-849-5931

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