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A mechanic failed to show his shoulder injury occurred on the job, a West Virginia appellate court held Thursday.
In Seevers v. Chaney’s Auto Repair & Towing LLC, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the state’s Workers Compensation Board of Review’s decision to deny workers compensation benefits to the auto repair worker.
Mechanic Jason Seevers worked for Chaney’s Auto Repair & Towing LLC in Chester, West Virginia. On March 31, 2017, he claimed that he injured his right shoulder while working on a car. The office manager said he never told her that he had sustained an injury at work but had complained about how his nephew had jarred his shoulder while the two were playing over the weekend. He left work early to seek treatment, but his employer was unaware that he claimed it was a work injury until the hospital called Chaney’s for information about their workers compensation insurance.
A physician diagnosed him as sustaining a right rotator cuff injury, and he was released to return to work April 4, 2017. He sustained a prior injury to the same shoulder in 2014 in a workplace accident, had surgery to correct the issue and received workers compensation.
The office manager said that at the time of his alleged 2017 injury, he was in trouble for changing the oil in a car but failing to refill it, causing the engine to blow up. This was his second time making this mistake, she said.
A claims administrator denied the claim on the basis that Mr. Seevers did not sustain an injury while in the course and scope of his employment. The West Virginia Office of Judges affirmed that denial, holding that Mr. Seevers failed to provide evidence to corroborate his story and found that he provided inconsistent statements concerning the events of his alleged injury, noting that medical records in one visit state that he injured his shoulder tightening bolts, and that records from a subsequent visit state that he sustained the injury when a car fell on him. A review board affirmed Office of Judges’ decision and Mr. Seevers appealed.
The appellate court affirmed the decision. The court found that the testimony of the office manager and business owner that Mr. Seevers had been in trouble at work at the time of his injury and had complained to them both that he aggravated his shoulder while roughhousing with his nephew was credible. The court also questioned the credibility of Mr. Seevers given the inconsistent accounts of how his injury occurred, as well as the fact that he said his injury was witnessed but presented no witnesses, testimony or affidavits to support his assertions. The court, therefore, affirmed the decision to deny workers comp benefits to Mr. Seevers.
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