A federal appeals court ruled that a man’s injuries from a suicide attempt are compensable because his distress stemmed from his work-related injuries. The accident happened in 2001, when a ship worker in Hawaii fell between 25 and 50 feet from a barge to a dry dock, landing on a steel floor. He suffered blunt trauma to his head, chest and abdomen, along with a fractured rib and shoulder blade, and knee and back pain, and later, filed a comp claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Two years later, the injured worker shot himself in the head, causing severe head injuries, in a suicide attempt that he said was a result of his fall and litigation over that claim. A psychiatrist testified that he was depressed due to multiple traumas and chronic pain from the fall, and stress from the litigation. Courts initially found that the suicide injuries were not compensable because the attempt was a willful act, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal said evidence of planning a suicide attempt does not preclude compensability, and ruled in the worker’s favor.
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