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Workers' Compensation

New Hampshire: Death from Drug Overdose Found Not Compensable

A decision denying death benefits to the surviving spouse of a New Hampshire worker who died from an overdose of oxycodone and heroin was affirmed by the state’s Supreme Court. The worker, who suffered a serious ankle fracture as a result of a work-related accident, underwent multiple surgeries and was prescribed oxycodone for persistent pain. When the worker’s doctors tried to wean the worker from his opioid dependency, the attempted suicide and later successfully participated in a program to deal with his drug dependency. Still later, however, he was again prescribed oxycodone for profound pain. Four years after his initial injury, his body was found alongside a bowl of crushed pills, drug paraphernalia, and a pill container of oxycodone with 70 pills gone (the prescription had been filled 12 days earlier). An autopsy revealed heroin and oxycodone in his system—each in a dose sufficient to have caused his death. Quoting Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the Court agreed that the ingestion of the drugs amounted to an independent cause of his death.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the 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 Appeal of Estate of Quinn, 2019 N.H. LEXIS 171 (Aug. 20, 2019)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 10.01.

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

For a more detailed discussion of the case, see