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Workers' Compensation Archives

Compensability of WV Work Release Inmate Workers' Comp Claim Rejected

Many people wonder whether inmates who are injured while on work release are entitled to recover workers' compensation. In West Virginia (WV), the typical legal answer applies: It depends. In fact the WV Supreme Court of Appeals recently addressed the compensability of an inmate workers' comp claim for a work release inmate who was performing work for a state agency when he was injured. The case is Crawford v. West Virginia Department of Corrections.

Claimant Attorney Fees in WV Workers' Compensation Cases: Who Foots the Bill?

A common question our workers' compensation practice group receives relates to the payment of workers' compensation claimant attorney fees by claims administrators. With the media reporting daily about excessive attorney fee awards in other areas, concern over this issue is understandable. However, in the context of West Virginia workers' compensation, the claims administrator rarely has to pay a claimant's attorney fees.

WV Supreme Court: Rule 20 Spine Impairment Tables Should Have Been Applied to Determine Whole Body Medical Impairment

Employers and insurers should take immediate note of a recent West Virginia Supreme Court decision involving permanent total disability thresholds. Late last week, the Court issued its decision in Cooper v. Appalachian Power Company.

Whole Body Medical Impairment Threshold under Consideration by WV Supreme Court

Employers across the state of West Virginia are waiting for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to issue its decision in a case involving permanent total disability (PTD). Argued on February 14, 2017, the case involves the proper application of West Virginia Code § 23-4-6(n)(1), the West Virginia Code of State Rules § 85-20-64.1 (Rule 20), as well as the court's previous holding in Bowles v. The New West Virginia Mining Co., No. 14-1066 (July 9, 2015), as they relate to the required threshold of impairment for PTD.

Workers' Compensation Claimant Surveillance: Is It Legal and How May It Be Used in West Virginia?

Our attorneys are often asked whether a West Virginia employer or workers' compensation carrier may conduct surveillance of a claimant and, if so, how that evidence may be used in potentially fraudulent claims

Short-Term Employer May Be Charged with Entire Hearing Loss Claim in WV

Most employers would never imagine that they would be stuck with an entire occupational hearing loss claim for an employee who worked a mere four days. But that's exactly what happened in a recent workers' compensation appeal before the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Pioneer Pipe, Inc. v. Swain et al.

Idiopathic Falls and Workers' Compensation in West Virginia

How do courts decide whether injuries that result from on-the-job falls are compensable under the West Virginia workers' compensation system? Workplace falls are common and can lead to serious, even fatal injuries. In fact, in the construction industry, falls are known as one of the "fatal four" because they are the leading cause of worker deaths. No industry is free from this common hazard. In fact, most nonfatal falls occur in health services, wholesale, and retail work.

Workers' Compensation Compensability of a Psychiatric Condition

In 2012, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals decided Hale v. W.Va. OIC, et al., 724 S.E.2d 752. In Hale, claimant had a compensable claim for a back injury. Claimant was later diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and other psychiatric illnesses. The treating physician submitted a Diagnosis Update seeking to add depression as a Workers' Compensation compensable condition, and the claim administrator denied the request on several grounds, most pertinent of which was that the initial diagnosis and treatment were not pre-authorized, as required by administrative rule.

West Virginia Workers' Compensation

In past sessions, several bills were proposed that would have dismantled statutory reforms to the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Act and returned West Virginia to the days of "liberal" evidentiary interpretation in Workers' Compensation matters. Notably, these bills would have eliminated the medical management rule known as "Rule 20" and given the treating physician almost complete discretion and authority to offer any treatment and add any conditions to the claim; eliminated the preponderance of the evidence standard for evidentiary interpretation and reinstated the "rule of liberality;" and created or re-created benefits which are not currently payable. Similar measures have been introduced this session, but it is not expected that any of these proposals will gain traction.