Redlich’s Melton team recently settled a long-running dependency claim, entitling a dependent spouse to more than $600,000 in lump sum compensation, plus funeral, counselling and pension benefits.
Our client and her husband were married for 35 years up until his death in 2019. The cause of death was noted as hepatic encephalopathy and medical evidence suggested that it was linked to the deceased’s fatty liver condition, caused by excessive weight gain.
Back in 1986, the deceased husband suffered a serious back injury at work and lodged a WorkCover claim. His underwent multiple surgeries on his back over the years and was also prescribed medication. The severity of his back injury not only stopped him from working but caused him to become depressed. Eventually, he became so unwell that his wife, our client, became his full-time carer.
Redlich’s was able to assist the deceased’s wife by proving that due to the length of their marriage and their financial circumstances, she was a "dependent partner" under the Act. The difficulty in this case however was in proving that the deceased’s WorkCover back injury in 1986 contributed to his death in 2019.
In preparing our case, we meticulously gathered medical records tracking the trajectory of the deceased’s weight gain over the years and the medication he was prescribed. We also obtained independent evidence in support of the link between the deceased’s medication and its tendency to cause weight gain. Our client was also able to provide us with photographic evidence of the deceased which demonstrated he was fit and slim prior to his back injury in 1986, allowing us to successfully argue that:
- the medication the deceased was prescribed to manage his back condition was known for causing excessive weight gain
- his ability to move and exercise was restricted because of his back condition
- his secondary psychological condition from his back injury caused him to comfort eat, meaning he continued to gain weight.
We were able to obtain the maximum payout of $623,950 for our client for her dependency claim. We were also able to finally give her some closure by reimbursing the cost of funeral expenses and winning her entitlement to receive counselling. Our client was also able to finally receive three years of dependency pension benefits back paid to her.