Karban v. Universal Fiber Systems, LLC, No. 2094-09-3 (Va. Ct. App. 07/13/10, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished opinion, the Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed the Workers' Compensation Commission's decision denying benefits to an equipment operator. It found the worker's testimony was not credible.
What it means: Personal observation is not the only means of evaluating testimony. The commission can give less weight to a worker's testimony when it conflicts with other evidence.
Summary: An extrusion operator for a yarn manufacturer alleged that he injured his back while moving equipment at work. He claimed that he felt pain but he did not report the injury to anyone and continued to work. Nearly seven months later, he reported the injury to an environmental health and safety representative for the manufacturer. The operator claimed that he did not know how to properly report his accident. In a hearing, the representative testified that employees are trained to report injuries immediately. Notes from the operator's doctor indicated that he complained of back pain prior to the work injury. A deputy commissioner found the operator was credible and awarded him temporary total disability benefits. The Workers' Compensation Commission rejected the commissioner's credibility finding and reversed the award of benefits. The Virginia Court of Appeals held that the commission did not err in rejecting the commissioner's credibility determination and affirmed the decision denying benefits.
The operator argued that the commission erred in reversing the credibility determination. The court stated that a personal observation of a witness's appearance and demeanor is not the only means of evaluating credibility. The court noted several discrepancies in the operator's testimony. The medical evidence indicated that the operator reported a back injury one month prior to the alleged work injury and he did not seek treatment until five months after the work incident. Thus, the operator failed to prove he suffered a compensable work-related injury.
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October 21, 2010
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