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Body handler failed to show injuries suffered on the job

workers comp

Inconsistencies in the injury descriptions made by a body handling worker at a West Virginia mortuary led an appellate court to dismiss his claims for workers compensation.

In Doughty v. Charleston Mortuary Service LLC, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in Charleston on Thursday unanimously affirmed a state Board of Review decision to deny workers comp to a man who claimed he suffered various injuries from handling heavy bodies.

Brian Doughty worked as a body recovery and transport person for Charleston Mortuary Service LLC. In 2011, he received treatment from a chronic pain center for neck, lower back and right leg pain due to a 2010 compensable injury.

In 2017, Mr. Doughty said he was lifting a body that weighed more than 400 pounds when he tripped while trying to stand up the legs of the gurney and felt pain in his groin and lower abdomen. A few months later he claimed that he injured his wrist carrying a 600-pound person down some stairs.

In December 2017, he said in a recorded statement that he reaggravated a hip injury while lifting a gurney and also stated he suffered a shoulder injury that he did not report because he was waiting to see if the pain would subside. He also said he refused to be seen by workers compensation doctors but wished to see his treating physician. Physician records did not support the described injuries.

In February 2018, he told a claims administrator that he suffered an injury to his lower back and groin that day when the gurney got caught while he was loading a body into his vehicle and also said he had a similar injury about six months earlier but did not seek emergency medical treatment.

A claims administrator rejected his claim and the Office of Judges affirmed the decision, finding that Mr. Doughty’s descriptions of his alleged injuries were inconsistent and that his medical records contradicted his injury reports. The Board of Review adopted the findings. Mr. Doughty appealed, but the appellate court affirmed the review board’s decision.