WV Court Upholds Denial of Claim by Safelite Tech

An auto glass technician’s failure to notify his employer in a timely manner about a shoulder injury contributed to the West Virginia Supreme Court’s denial for benefits in his case against Safelite.

According to court documents, Robert Wilson was an auto glass technician for Safelite when he claimed to have sustained an injury to his left shoulder on October 2, 2017. However, Wilson did not file a claim for workers’ compensation until mid-February of 2018.

In written testimony provided in late November 2018, Wilson stated that he worked five to six days a week uninstalling and installing five to six windshields per day. On September 30, 2017, he noticed an ache in his shoulder while finishing his last assignment for the day. Symptoms increased throughout the day, he testified. In his testimony, Wilson said he did not notify his employer of the injury because he had heard that filing a worker’s compensation claim was a negative experience.

His claim for benefits was denied by an administrator in May of 2018, and in early November 2019, the Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges affirmed that decision. Officials for the office said that Wilson did not report his injury to his employer in a timely manner, did not sustain a definite, isolated injury, and did not provide medical evidence to support his injury was “causally related to an occupational injury.”

Wilson sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with left shoulder impingement syndrome. Court documents state that after physical therapy, the physical therapist advised Wilson to remain out of work until Nov. 13, 2017, and he was out of work from October 17 to Nov. 12, 2017.

After four days of worsening symptoms in early November, Wilson sought treatment from an orthopedist who noted his pain was experienced for five weeks, while lifting windshields. Dr. David Ede, Wilson’s orthopedist, stated that physical therapy was not reducing Wilson’s symptoms, and he diagnosed Wilson with left shoulder scapula bursitis. Wilson was discharged from physical therapy on November 13. According to court documents, the physical therapist said Wilson was “being discharged from [physical therapy] by his orthopedist, although the [patient’s] goals have not yet been met.”

An MRI on December 19, 2017 at Charleston Area Medical Center revealed no rotator cuff tear, according to court documents. Exploratory surgery of Wilson’s left shoulder occurred in late January 2018. Following surgery, Wilson received a diagnosis of a tear in the Superior Labrum, Anterior and Posterior.

Confusion arose during Wilson’s treatment, court documents state, because Wilson previously had injured his right shoulder in a tennis injury, though medical documents stated that Wilson’s injury “is a direct result of an occupational injury, and it did not aggravate any prior injury or disease.”

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