Friday, October 23, 2009
A single mother whose 19 year old son died in a car accident in the course and scope of his employment failed to establish that she was a partial or total dependent for survival benefits. Claimant testified she was totally disabled in 2003, and her son quit school to work full time to support the household. The issue of dependency is determined at the time of the injury. Claimant established she was dependent on claimant until Feb. 2005, but claimant did not provide any support from Feb. 2005 until his death in August 2005, except for paying a cell phone bill on one occasion. The court found that the Commission could have made reasonable findings that claimant had failed to establish she was a dependent at the time of injury as her son did not provide support or in-kind support such as purchasing food, clothing, or even visited claimant since he moved to Missouri to live with his girlfriend. Occasional gifts do not arise to the level of dependency and the court found it "unfortunate" that claimant did not meet her burden of proof. The case is Vice, dec. v. Advantage Waste Services, No. SD 29671 (10-15-09).