Hagy v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner

In Hagy v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 163 W. Va. 198, 255 S.E.2d 906 (1979), Mr. Hagy had lost several fingers from his left hand in an accident in Virginia. He was later injured in West Virginia and received benefits for temporary total disability while his hand healed. After reaching the maximum degree of recovery from the accident, his doctor opined that he had a 50 percent permanent partial disability. Before the Commissioner made a final decision regarding the permanent partial disability award, Mr. Hagy died. The Commissioner dismissed his claim, and his widow appealed. Citing the forerunner to W. Va. Code 23-4-6(g), the Court ruled against the widow, explaining: "This statute predicates the right of the claimant's dependents to obtain the benefits of the claimant on his initially having been given an award of permanent partial disability. The phrase 'unpaid balance of such award' also clearly indicates this construction." Hagy v. State Workmen's Compensation Commissioner, 163 W. Va. 198, 201-02, 255 S.E.2d 906, 908 (1979). The Court found that a claimant must have already won an award for a widow (or widower) to recover: "Ferguson requires that the Commissioner shall have made an award of permanent partial disability before the claimant's dependents are entitled to receive the benefits at his death under W. Va. Code, 23-4-6(g)." The Court in Hagy finished: "We conclude that under Ferguson the claimant's widow is not entitled to permanent partial disability benefits, since the claimant received no unscheduled permanent partial disability award during his lifetime and died of causes unrelated to the injury."