One of Toyota's senior car engineers died from working too many hours, a Japanese labour bureau has found.

The 45-year-old man was developing a hybrid version of Toyota's successful Camry line at the time of his death.

In the two months leading up to his death, the man averaged more than 80 hours of overtime per month, his wife's lawyers said.

Workers in Japan often put in very long hours and "sudden death from overwork" is referred to as karoshi.

The ruling will allow his family to collect benefits from his work insurance, his wife's lawyers said.

The worker, whose name was not given, regularly worked nights and weekends and was frequently sent abroad. He died of ischemic heart disease in January 2006.

In a statement, Toyota offered its condolences and said it would monitor the health of its employees.

Workplace stress is common all over the world, but it is a huge problem in Japan, where karoshi was first recognised as a phenomenon in 1987.

Last year, a court in central Japan ordered the government to pay compensation to Hiroko Uchino, the wife of a 30-year-old Toyota employee who collapsed at work and died in 2002.


Death benefits are paid in accordance with the beneficiary provision of the group life insurance contract, and dismemberment benefits are paid to the employee. Coverage is usually written to cover both occupational and nonoccupational accidents. However, when employees are in hazardous occupations, coverage may apply only to nonoccupational accidents, in which case employees would still have workers' compensation coverage for any occupational accidents.

Some insurers also pay an additional benefit if an insured suffers a covered loss as the result of an automobile accident, as long as the insured is wearing a properly fastened seat belt and is not under the influence of alcohol. Other insurers may include additional educational benefits for dependent children. For competitive reasons, some insurers make a number of additional benefits available for purchase by the employer to cover an employee who is injured or killed in a covered accident. Some additional benefits include the following:

- A benefit to help cover the costs an employer incurs to make worksite adaptations necessitated by the Americans with Disabilities Act to accommodate a disabled employee

- A benefit to return an injured employee or the body of a deceased employee home if death or disability occurs elsewhere

- Rehabilitation benefits for an injured employee

- Monthly income benefits for an employee who is permanently disabled

- Monthly income benefits for an employee who becomes a paraplegic or quadriplegic, and

- Monthly income benefits for an employee who is in a coma

Coverage is usually not subject to a conversion privilege. However, an increasing number of insurers are allowing conversion, but possibly only up to specified limits that are lower than the former group coverage. When life insurance coverage continues after retirement, accidental death and dismemberment benefits normally cease. As with life insurance coverage, however, this coverage may be continued during temporary periods of unemployment. In contrast to the group term insurance policy to which it is attached, group accidental death and dismemberment insurance contains some exclusions. These include losses resulting from the following:

- Suicide at any time (It is interesting to note that, except for a few multiple-employer trusts, group term insurance does not contain a suicide provision.)

- Disease or bodily or mental infirmity or medical or surgical treatment thereof

- Ptomaines or any infection other than one occurring simultaneously with and through an accidental cut or wound

- War

- Travel or flight in any type of aircraft as a pilot, student pilot, or officer or member of the crew (There is a trend toward eliminating this exclusion, particularly when coverage is written on large groups)

More info about death benefits