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Alaska: High Court Reiterates Limit of $10K in Benefits for Deceased Worker Who Had No Dependents

January 01, 2022 (1 min read)

Despite the apparent harshness of the rule, the Supreme Court of Alaska affirmed a trial court’s decision granting a general contractor and building owner summary judgment in a wrongful death action filed by the estate of an apprentice electrician who suffered a fatal electrocution injury at an Alaska construction project. Having qualified as the personal representative of her son’s estate, his mother filed a tort action against the contractor and the landowner, contending they were liable in negligence for her son’s death. They contended they were shielded from liability by 2004 legislation that extended the workers’ compensation coverage requirement and the exclusive remedy defenses to include contractors and project owners like the defendants. In response, the personal representative argued the 2004 legislation left the estate without an effective remedy. The trial court rejected her argument and granted summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed. It turned to similar decisions from Montana and New Hampshire and pointed out that it was for the Alaska legislature, not the courts, to determine if the compensation provided to a worker who died without dependents was adequate. The legislature could rationally decide, as it had done in Alaska, to allow only nominal recovery where there were no dependents.

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

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Burke v. Criterion Gen., Inc., 2021 Alas. LEXIS 133 (Nov. 5, 2021)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 100.05.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see

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