In 2001, William Kealoha fell from a drydock. He suffered multiple injuries. But his workers' compensation claim was denied. He's been trying to get it for 12 years.
"The insurance company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to deny William benefits," attorney Jay Friedheim said.
In 2003, a depressed Kealoha attempted suicide. He survived, but the shotgun blast severely disfigured the left side of his face.
"I'm going to be a better man," Kealoha said.
Now, a judge has ordered Kealoha's former employer and their insurance carrier to pay him tens of thousands of dollars in workers comp benefits with interest, dating back to 2003.
"Under this program he's going to get about $1,450 a month. In my business of workers comp that's huge," Friedheim said.
"Right now I feel really happy," Kealoha said.
The judge determined the suicide attempt was linked to Kealoha's work-related injury. The employer and insurance company must also pay for the extensive surgery it will take to repair Kealoha's face. Friedheim said it will cost more than a million dollars.
"The half of the face that's left has no support," he said. "It's actually collapsing into his face. So we've got to build that up."
Friedheim believes the ruling from the Department of Labor's Workers' Compensation Program could affect other workers' comp claims if it's proven a suicide or suicide attempt was linked to a work-related injury.
"It will reduce the amount of time and suffering that other people have to go through," he said.
"Things are going to be changed in my life. I thank God for that," Kealoha said.
Kealoha is 47. He will receive workers' compensation payments until he's 65.