Buck Copeland Prevailed on Asbestosis Death Claim
Buck Copeland (Raleigh) recently prevailed at the Full Commission on an asbestosis death claim. The Full Commission found that the greater weight of the credible evidence in the record, which included evidence both ways as to the presence of asbestos in the plant, showed that Employee was not injuriously exposed to asbestos in his place of employment. Buck also prevailed on a statute of limitations defense. While the Employee was alive, the parties settled the underlying asbestosis claim by way of a clincher agreement. This clincher was approved by the IC more than two years prior to the Employee’s death. The death claim statute says that in order for Employee’s death to be compensable, it must occur within six years of the disability date related to the occupational disease or within two years from the final determination of disability, whichever is later. The parties agreed that Employee was disabled more than six years prior to his death. In accordance with the Defendants’ argument, the Full Commission determined the approval of the clincher agreement was a “final determination of disability” and therefore the claim was barred by the death claim statute of limitations.
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