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Worker unable to prove additional brain injuries after crash

West Virginia

An appeals court in West Virginia ruled Thursday that a security guard traveling on duty failed to prove additional brain injuries stemming from an incident he first reported as “low-speed” with no impact when he swerved his work vehicle to avoid hitting a deer.

Christopher Franklin’s original claim stemming from the 2015 incident in which a doctor diagnosed him with a head injury, cervical sprain and hip contusion was accepted, while later imaging showed signs of previous injuries and further examinations showed congenital cranial stenosis, according to documents in Christopher Franklin v. Cramer Security & Investigations, filed in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in Charleston.

In 2017, Mr. Franklin, who had a history of seizures, sought to add additional injuries to his claim, including post-traumatic headaches, memory loss and concussion, telling a doctor that the injuries were caused by “wrecking his vehicle and losing consciousness for five minutes,” adding that “he lost traction going around a curve and was not sure if there was a deer present or not,” according to documents.

A claims administrator denied the additional injuries on a lack of proof. The Office of Judges subsequently affirmed the claims administrator’s assessment, determining in part “that the medical evidence contains numerous inconsistencies in regard to the compensable injury. Mr. Franklin first reported to the emergency department that he was involved in a low speed car accident, had no loss of consciousness, and that the impact was to the passenger side.”

“His story changed over time and he reported that he lost consciousness and that he struck his head and shoulder on the left side of the truck even though the impact was to the right side. Lastly, the Office of Judges found that Mr. Franklin's symptoms are not proportionate to the compensable injury,” court documents state.

A five-judge panel unanimously backed the earlier ruling, writing that “Mr. Franklin failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that post-traumatic headaches, memory loss, and concussion resulted from the compensable injury” and that a doctor “performed an independent neuropsychiatry forensic evaluation in which he opined that the conditions were unrelated to the compensable injury.”

The employer and attorneys involved could not immediately be reached for comment.






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