EMP represented a high-level executive working for a national retail chain. The executive was concerned that after a successful, multi-decade career with his employer he was going to be terminated. He was ordered to drive approximately 75 miles to an early morning meeting at the regional office.
Approximately halfway through his drive, the executive’s car exited the ramp to a rest area, increased its speed to approximately 80 mph, and slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer. The executive was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The employer and the insurance carrier denied workers’ compensation benefits to the widow and their minor child. The insurance company and employer raised multiple defenses to the claim, including that it was unrelated to his work and was potentially a suicide.
EMP tracked down several witnesses, including a driver who saw the executive driving erratically, slump over the steering wheel, start to pull to the side of the road and then attempt to reach the rest area before speeding up. Prior to and during a mediated settlement conference, EMP presented these facts in combination with the North Carolina law controlling the right of an employee to be compensated when his or her injuries are made worse because of driving on a roadway. The case settled with the widow and the minor child receiving 100% of the benefits to which they were entitled.