Hughes v. State Compensation Comm'r

In Hughes v. State Compensation Comm'r, 145 W. Va. 629, 116 S.E.2d 153 (1960), Mr. Hughes was a workers' compensation claimant who had received a 50 percent permanent partial disability award, but sought to reopen that claim so that he might receive an additional award. At the first level of the process, the Division ruled he was not entitled to any additional award. However, the Appeal Board ruled on December 10, 1959, that Mr. Hughes was entitled to an additional 10 percent disability award. Unfortunately for all concerned, Mr. Hughes had died three weeks before, in late November of that year. The Court held that, because the initially unfavorable decision remained in effect until overruled, and that because Mr. Hughes died before the favorable decision was issued, the law would not permit his widow to receive the additional award to which the Appeal Board thought him entitled. The specific holding by the Court stated: "A claimant who dies from sickness or noncompensable injury pending his appeal to the Workmen's Compensation Appeal Board from an order of the State Compensation Commissioner denying further benefits to him is not, at the time of his death, "a claimant to whom an award has been made" as contemplated by Code, 23-4-6(e) as amended."