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Workers' Compensation

New York: Fatal Embolism Found Compensable as Unexplained Death Under § 21(1)







A New York court affirmed a decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board that decedent’s death arose out of and in the course of his employment where the decedent collapsed and died while working as a dispatcher. Security videotape taken of the dispatch office on the night of decedent’s death showed him sitting at his work station in apparent discomfort before eventually collapsing on the floor. His body was found several hours later, and an autopsy determined that decedent died from a pulmonary embolism due to deep venous thrombosis of the lower extremities with an unknown cause. The court noted that unexplained or unwitnessed accidents that occur in the course of employment are presumed, pursuant to N.Y. Workers’ Comp. Law § 21(1), to arise out of such employment. The employer presented the independent medical report of an internal medicine specialist, who opined that venous thrombosis of the lower extremities can be an inherited condition or acquired and, although he identified several acquired causes for this condition, he could not determine the cause of decedent’s fatal embolism or whether it was related to his work. The court said that in light of the fact that the cause of decedent’s embolism was unexplained, the Board properly evoked the presumption of compensability.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Hill-Chapman v. Earlybird Delivery Sys., LLC, 2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5865 (July 9, 2015) [2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5865 (July 9, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 7.04 [7.04]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.









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