Nevada Supreme Court Says Suicide Not Willful in Workers' Compensation Case


The Nevada Supreme Court issued a decision last week in Vredenburg v. Sedgwick CMS allowing surviving family members to recover workers' compensation death benefits under certain circumstances when an injured employee commits suicide.

NRS 616C.230(1) provides for workers' compensation benefits for accidental employee deaths but precludes surviving family members from recovering when a the employee's death was caused by his "willful intention to injure himself."

The Supreme Court ruled that a suicide is not "willful" for the purpose of denying workers' compensation death benefits if a sufficient causal chain links an employee's work related injury to the employee's suicide. The precedent setting standard requires a surviving family member to show the following:

(1) the employee suffered an industrial injury,
(2) the industrial injury caused some psychological condition severe enough to override the employee's rational judgment, and
(3) the psychological condition caused the employee to commit suicide.
Vredenburg v. Sedgwick CMS, 124 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 53 (July 24, 2008)

The full opinion can be found here