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West Virginia: Court Reiterates Narrow Rule in Aggravation Cases

May 05, 2017 (1 min read)

In a divided memorandum decision, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reiterated its narrow rule regarding the compensability of claims in which a compensable injury aggravates a preexisting condition. Citing Gill v. City of Charleston, 236 W. Va. 737, 783 S.E.2d 857 (2016), the majority of the court held that a noncompensable preexisting injury may not be added as a compensable component of a claim for workers’ compensation medical benefits merely because it may have been aggravated by a compensable injury. Only to the extent that the aggravation of a noncompensable preexisting injury results in a discrete new injury, may it be found to be compensable. The majority accordingly reversed a decision by the Office of Judges that had found the employee’s pre-existing arthritis was aggravated by his compensable injury and subsequent surgery. Because the record did not contain a physician’s opinion as to whether there was a new discrete injury separate from the pre-existing arthritis, the majority said the standards set forth in Gill could not be met.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis 

See Murray Am. Energy, Inc. v. Barlow, 2017 W. Va. LEXIS 303 (May 1, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 9.02.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law