Workers Comp Death Benefits Upheld for Man Who Died on Treadmill

Workers Comp Death Benefits Still Go To Widow Because Man Was Using Home Office Treadmill

workers comp benefitsThe highest workers compensation court in Maine upheld a ruling on Thursday, January 22nd, that the widow of a man who died from a heart attack while using a treadmill in his home office is still entitled to workers comp death benefits.

The Supreme Judicial Court unanimously rejected the appeal from the Salvation Army, which claimed that Gregory Sullwold’s widow was not entitled to workers comp death benefits, because her husband died at home and not in his office.

Sullwold reportedly suffered a heart attack before the one which killed him, according to court papers, and the heart attacks were attributed to high stress managing a $2 billion-plus portfolio for the Salvation Army. After suffering his first heart attack, Sullwold requested assistance with the high-stress job, but his requests were repeatedly denied. In addition, Sullwold’s home office had been sanctioned by the Salvation Army as a legitimate place for him to work. While he used the treadmill on February 23rd, 2010, he was watching financial markets on a television in his home office, and also checking emails on his work-related Blackberry. He then suffered the heart attack that killed him.

“It would’ve been more difficult to prove if it happened while he was walking his dog,” the Sullwold family attorney said. “We were able to prove not only was he under a lot of stress, but he was working at the time he died.”

The Salvation Army stated that it would further investigate the workers comp death benefits claim, and potentially file another appeal.

Death Benefits Through Workers Comp

In South Carolina, workers’ compensation allows for financial benefits to dependents or parents of a deceased employee. Workers’ Compensation coverage is elective for employers in South Carolina with three or less employees. Anyone employing four or more employees is required to have SC workman’s compensation insurance, which provides death benefits in the event that an employee is killed related to a workplace accident.

Financial assistance in the form of compensation benefits will be paid according to the following terms:

  • All workers’ compensation death benefits are exempt from the claims of creditors and all estate taxes.
  • 2/3 of the employee’s weekly wage will be paid to a spouse, or a spouse and dependent children. The weekly benefit will not be less than $75 or more than the annual compensation rate limit. (For 2010, this is $689.71.) The benefits will be paid up to a maximum of 500 weeks with two exceptions: 1. Weekly benefits already paid to the employee (and family) during injury will be subtracted from the death benefit limit. 2. When a spouse remarries, a two-year lump sum is payable to the spouse upon remarriage and weekly benefits cease.
  • Children receive benefits beyond age 19 if disabled, or until age 23 if full-time students.
  • If there are no dependents, workers comp death benefits will be paid out among partially dependent persons.
  • If there are no dependents at all, workers’ comp death benefits will be paid to non-dependent children.
  • If the deceased employee does not have children, the worker’s comp death benefits will be paid to the employee’s parents.

The Strom Law Firm Understands SC Worker’s Comp Legislation

The Columbia, SC workers’ comp death benefits lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.