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The widow of an Ohio worker who died hours after his workplace injury should receive more than 23 years' worth of workers compensation benefits for the loss of his limbs, sight and hearing in the period before his death, an Ohio appellate court has ruled.
Dhimitraq Taluri, 63, worked for Lakewood, Ohio-based Arberia L.L.C. and died in October 2011 after he reportedly fell 30 feet through a roof while performing demolition work, court records show. Mr. Taluri initially survived the fall with severe injuries to his brain and skull, but died 4½ hours later at a nearby hospital.
The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation granted workers comp death benefits to Mr. Taluri's widow, Doloreza, records show. Ms. Taluri later filed a motion seeking an award for loss of use of Mr. Taluri's arms, legs, eyes and ears caused by his fall in the hours prior to his death.
A doctor who reviewed Mr. Taluri's medical records testified to the Ohio workers comp bureau that Mr. Taluri had lost use of the body parts mentioned in Ms. Taluri's claim for a brief period of time before his death, according to court filings. Based on that testimony, a panel of the workers comp bureau awarded 1,225 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits, or $959,175, to Ms. Taluri for her husband's injuries.
The award was based on cumulative benefits for the total loss of Mr. Taluri's limbs, vision and hearing, according to court filings. That included 250 weeks for the loss of both eyes, 125 weeks for the loss of both ears, 400 weeks for the loss of his legs and 450 weeks for the loss of his arms.
Arberia appealed, arguing in part that Ohio law would limit the award for the loss or Mr. Taluri's limbs, sight and hearing to one week of benefits since he only lived for a few hours after his work accident, records show.
But a three-judge panel of the Ohio Court of Appeals in Columbus unanimously overruled Arberia's objections and upheld the benefits award to Ms. Taluri on Dec. 4. The court found that Mr. Taluri qualified for loss-of-use benefits before his death that could be awarded in a lump sum payment.
The court also found that, under Ohio case law, partial disability benefit awards are based on the life expectancy of a claimant's surviving spouse, dependent children and other dependents, not on the life span of the deceased claimant.
“It is irrelevant how many hours Taluri survived to collect an award because (Ohio law) only requires that he would have been entitled to an award before he died,” the ruling reads. “The medical evidence shows that Taluri was entitled to 1,225 weeks of scheduled loss award which the (workers comp bureau) could commute to a lump sum payment. Taluri's dependent widow, being alive, is entitled to the full 1,225 weeks lump-sum payment of the loss of use award and nothing in (Ohio law) limits this payment.”
Government entities in Ohio will see workers compensation rates decrease at an average of 9.1% as of 2015, the board of directors of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation announced.