Wingrove v. Workers' Compensation Div

In Wingrove v. Workers' Compensation Div., 208 W. Va. 80, 538 S.E.2d 378 (2000), a coal miner, Mr. Wingrove, had filed a workers' compensation claim, but died before the claim reached a final decision before this Court. However, Mr. Wingrove had received an initially favorable ruling from the Division, which gave him a permanent total disability award. Later, the Appeal Board stripped Mr. Wingrove of that award, so he appealed to the Court. Unfortunately, Mr. Wingrove died after his appeal was granted, but before this Court could rule on his case. That case, presented the question of how the death of a claimant during the pendency of his appeal would affect the outcome of his workers' compensation claim. The Court ruled in Wingrove that the statute does not require a claimant to have received a "final award" before death in order for his family to be eligible for receipt of any unpaid benefits. Specifically, the Court held: "If a claimant in a Workers' Compensation case to whom an award was made, dies while appealing a subsequent adverse decision concerning that award, the appeal shall proceed as if death had not occurred. Any unpaid compensation awarded as a result of such an appeal, which would have been paid or payable to the claimant up to the time of his or her death, shall not accrue to the estate of the claimant, but shall be payable to the dependents of the deceased claimant, if there are dependents at the time of death."