Monday, October 23, 2017

Injuries sustained in suicide attempt can be compensable under Longshore

A federal appeals court ruled a man who shot himself due to anguish over injuries suffered on the job is entitled to compensation for the injuries he sustained during his suicide attempt.

William Kealoha was a ship laborer for Hawaii-based Leeward Marine Inc. when he fell between 25 and 50 feet from a barge to a dry dock   He suffered blunt trauma to his head, chest and abdomen, along with a fractured rib and shoulder blade, and knee and back pain. 

2 years later he shot himself in the head, causing severe head injuries, in a suicide attempt that he claimed was a result of his fall and litigation over that claim. A psychiatrist who testified on his behalf said Mr. Kealoha suffered from major depressive disorder due to multiple traumas and chronic pain from the fall and stress from the litigation, which caused depression, anger and anxiety, and worsened his already poor impulse control.  Mr. Kealoha sought workers comp benefits for the injuries he sustained during his suicide attempt.

In an unpublished decision issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco., a three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled that the board correctly affirmed the administrative law judge’s decision to award benefits to Mr. Kealoha and denied the motion to review, saying recovery under the Longshore Act is appropriate.