Workers' Compensation & Abatement - Ex Parte Thompson Tractor Co., Inc.
Ex parte Thompson Tractor Co., Inc., [Ms. 2160086, Jan. 13, 2017] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2017). The Court of Civil Appeals grants a petition for a writ of mandamus by an employer seeking dismissal of a workers’ compensation injury action (seeking benefits on account of the worker’s contraction of asbestosis) because of the death of the worker. Citing Ex parte Woodward Iron Co., 277 Ala. 133, 167 So. 2d 702 (1964), the court reiterates “[an employee’s] rights [to workers’ compensation benefits] terminate[s] at his [or her] death.” Ms. *6. A workers’ compensation claim is not considered an action that survives the death of an employee so that it may be continued in the name of the personal representative of the estate. Id. If a workers’ compensation claim has been adjudicated or settled before the death of the employee, a dependent widow may recover the benefits specified under the Act, but, if not, the claim abates upon the death of the employee. Ms. *7, citing Gibson v. Staffco, L.L.C., 63 So. 3d 1272 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010). Accordingly, because in this case the worker died before his claim was adjudicated or settled, the claim was extinguished by his death and his widow could not be substituted as a plaintiff under Rule 25, Ala. R. Civ. P. in order to pursue the work-related injury claim. Ms. *7, citing Hardin v. Palmer Truss Co., 558 So. 2d 963 (Ala. Civ. App. 1990) and Owens v. Ward, 49 Ala. App. 293, 271 So. 2d 251 (Civ. App. 1972).