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Insights

The New South Wales Workers Compensation Act provides for payments in circumstances where a worker’s death arises from their employment.

The principal lump sum is an amount currently more than $834,000. In addition, the cost of funeral expenses can be recovered (subject to a cap) and some children are also entitled to receive weekly payments.

In most cases, a workplace death is easy to define whilst some cases are more complicated.

Many workers who have sustained physical or other injuries in the course of their employment develop depression or other psychiatric conditions. Sadly, in some circumstances, these conditions have caused or contributed to a worker committing suicide and it raises the question… are the death benefits payable in those circumstances?

The courts have considered issues involving suicide over many years. Traditionally, courts approached matters on the basis that suicide may break the chain of causation. This has been qualified in some cases with Courts now focusing on whether the act of suicide could be regarded as an intentional act.

If it is an intentional act, then benefits under the Workers Compensation Act may not be payable. In several cases, a worker suffering from depression, alcohol abuse, and other factors have been held to be entitled to a death benefit on the basis that their suicide was not an intentional act.

Kells has recently acted for several families in these tragic circumstances and we have succeeded in convincing insurers that death benefits are payable. If this terrible set of events has happened to your family or loved ones, it is important to obtain accurate advice as soon as possible. Assembling medical and other evidence is crucial.

 

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