Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers lie within…
Let us imagine Jon Snow was an employee of a company situated in NSW called The Night’s Watch Pty Ltd. In the course of his employment he is fatally wounded by several stab wounds, and death follows within a short period. What kind of compensation is Mr Snow entitled to?
1. Death Benefits
Under the NSW Workers Compensation Legislation, death benefits are payable to his dependents (or if he has no dependents, to his legal personal representative). These include a substantial lump sum and funeral expenses.
2. Weekly Payments to Dependent Children
Weekly payments are also payable to any dependent children of the worker. If Jon had taken on the role of parent for any of the Stark children after the death of Ned and Catelyn (their parents), they would be counted as his children for the purpose of the death benefits claim.
But what about Lump Sum Compensation for Permanent Impairment?
Where an injury results in a permanent impairment, lump sum compensation may be payable for that impairment. The right to bring such a claim is not extinguished by the death of a worker and may be brought by the legal personal representative.
In a recent case*, the NSW Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether an incident that resulted in catastrophic injuries causing near-immediate death, could also result in a permanent impairment claim?
The Court considered the purpose of compensation for permanent impairment, which is to compensate an injured worker for the loss of quality of life caused by the injury. It determined that there is no ‘permanent impairment’ when the worker’s injuries are fatal and the worker ‘survives for a very short period, measured in seconds or a few minutes’.
In our scenario, Jon’s death occurred within minutes and therefore no permanent impairment compensation would be payable.
This begs the question, just how long does a worker have to survive their injuries for a permanent impairment claim to arise?
Imagine if another employee, Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane, had died days after suffering fatal injuries at the hands of Ser Brienne. Should Sandor be eligible for a permanent impairment claim? What if he only survived a few hours? Or if he had survived a few weeks?
A Fantastical Complication
But the case of Jon Snow doesn’t end there! You may recall Jon Snow did not stay dead. He was resurrected by the Lord of Light. What effect do you think his resurrection would have on the claim for death benefits? What if he came back as a White Walker instead?
We might have to leave that for the maesters to decide…
*Hunter Quarries Pty Ltd v Alexandra Mexon as Administrator for the Estate of the Late Ryan Messenger  NSWCA 178.