Duvar English

Turkey’s court of cassation ruled the 2009 death of a long-haul truck driver from the swine flu was ruled as “a work accident,” allowing his family to receive support from the Social Security Institution (SGK), the broadcaster Habertürk reported on March 10.

The deceased driver had been on a work trip to Ukraine and had been back in Turkey for two days when he went to the hospital on Dec. 13, 2009 complaining he felt lethargic.

He was diagnosed with an “unidentified acute upper respiratory infection,” given a shot, prescribed medication and was released.

The driver was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 17, 2009 with a cough, phlegm and lethargy that lasted a week and a fever of 104 F that lasted for two days.

He died on Dec. 26, 2009 after 10 days of treatment in the intensive care unit.

The cause of his death was recorded as H1N1, also known as the swine flu, as well as pneumonia and acute kidney failure.

The driver’s family applied to Turkey Social Security Institution (SGK) for financial aid on the grounds that his death had been a work accident.

While the Labor and Social Services Ministry inspections concluded the death had been a work accident, a local court found the family’s request to be unfounded and denied it.

Conditions to qualify as a work accident

Upon appeal, the court of cassation noted the conditions of a work accident qualification as the following:

  1. The insured must be working as part of a job by the employer in the work place or,
  2. The insured must be traveling for work, including times when they aren’t performing their primary “job,” or,
  3. The insured mother must be breastfeeding within the times reserved to them by the employer or,
  4. The insured must have experienced an event that hurt them physically or mentally at the time or later, whilst traveling to an off-site work location in a vehicle provided by the employer.

The court of cassation noted that in compliance with the last condition, the effects of an event that took place during work hours might reveal themselves in time, increase in severity and reach a conclusion later.

The court said that as long as the alleged detrimental consequences could be related to a work event, they would be considered to be part of a work accident.

Since the driver had gone to the hospital within one to four days of returning from his work trip to Ukraine and since his symptoms back then were likely due to the swine flu in its early stages, the court ruled the driver’s death as a work accident.

Why work accidents matter

When a SGK-insured worker dies outside of a work accident, they are expected to have been insured for five years and to have at least 900 days of premium in order for their family to receive financial aid.

In the case of a death by work accident, these conditions aren’t required to be met. Even if a worker dies on their first day on the job, their family still receives pensions. A worker injured whilst working is compensated for loss of income.

Losing a family member in a work accident also qualifies individuals to receive pensions worth 70 percent of their income in the last three months and, at times, even two pensions.