If an employee dies in your workplace, take note: Under New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law, any death that occurs at work is presumed to be related to work.
As a result, employers will be liable for payments to the survivor unless they ask for a hearing and prove the death wasn’t related to work after all. Be aware that you can make such a challenge, and get your documents in order before doing so.
Recent case: Beth Ann Crump’s husband worked for Saint Patrick’s Church until he collapsed and died suddenly. His widow received wage-loss benefits based on the presumption that a death at work is a work-related death.
But Saint Patrick’s, which is self-insured, appealed and offered evidence that the death wasn’t work-related. That included the affidavit of a pastor who had seen the decedent shortly before he went to work and urged him to go to the hospital since he was complaining of dizziness, cold sweats and pain in his left shoulder—classic heart attack symptoms. Plus, a medical expert testified that the autopsy showed an underlying heart condition that could have caused sudden death anywhere, anytime. The court dismissed the widow’s claim. (In the matter of Crump v. Saint Patrick’s Church, No. 501260, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, 2007)