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3.4 Proving Liability for the Death and Removal of Statutory Exclusions
As discussed in subsection 1.1 of this handbook, the criteria for investigating whether a death occurred in compensable circumstances are essentially the same as for any other grade of injury or disease. That is, the death must be shown to have resulted from a compensable injury (including disease).
This means that in general, the procedures set out in this Handbook's chapter on 'initial liability' should also be applied to investigations of deaths.
Note that the SRCA, although primarily a 'no fault' Act, provides for a number of circumstances where the actions of the employee are deemed to have excluded him/her from compensation. These exclusions are summarised at Parts 82 to 98 of the Initial Liability chapter of this Handbook. In brief, deaths arising from a reaction to reasonable disciplinary action, failure to obtain promotion transfer or benefit from employment, a condition concealed at enlistment or from a self inflicted injury are non-compensable and do NOT attract the Death benefit.
There are also similar exclusions from compensation (re: S14(3) and S6(3) of SRCA) for:
- injuries arising from 'serious and wilful misconduct', and
- 'voluntary and unreasonable submission to abnormal risk',
but these particular exclusions are waived by the Act where 'the injury results in death, or serious and permanent impairment'.
Note: This concession does not apply to the other exclusions listed above (discipline, self inflicted etc.).
Note that by virtue of the definition of 'injury' at S4(1), those injuries contributed to by alcohol are deemed to have arisen from serious and wilful misconduct. Thus:
- a member who drove home from a compulsory ADF mess function with a blood alcohol reading over 0.05 and suffered a broken leg from the resulting MVA would not be entitled to compensation
- however if that member died in that MVA, the death benefit would be payable.