Securing Medical Coverage for South Carolina Work Injuries

The effects of a Spartanburg work injury can linger or worsen even after an employee has returned to work. sorter.jpg

The worker may have been medically cleared to return to most of his or her regular duties, but that may not be the end of ongoing pain or a condition that becomes aggravated or grows worse with time.

Workers in these situations are entitled to seek compensation for their continued medical care, and missed time off work. This is true even if the worker is no longer employed at the company where the original injury occurred. In these instances, however, it’s important for the workers’ compensation lawyer representing you to establish that the current condition is directly related to the prior work injury.

In some cases, when the progression of the illness is obvious, this can be a fairly straightforward process. But the more time has lapsed between the old injury and the new claim, the harder you may have to fight.

The case of Delacastro v. State ex rel., Wyo. Workers’ Safety & Comp. Div., recently reviewed by the Wyoming Supreme Court, illustrates what can happen when workers fail to establish a link.

Here, the claimant worked as a human resources director for a hospital back in 2007 when he injured his hip while carrying a large box of files down a flight of stairs. He filed a workers’ compensation claim for that injury, and it was granted. He was off work for a period of time and attended about a months’ worth of physical therapy sessions. However, the last session he canceled, claiming he had no more pain or numbness.

He returned for treatment about a month later, complaining of pain and weakness in his hip. He again received physical therapy – which was covered – until a physician found him to be 90 percent recovered. He could jog with minimal pain and had even engaged in activities like horseback riding and hunting without any trouble.

The following year, he left his job, and did not seek additional treatment for injury until 2009. He told the doctor he had tingling in his thighs and feet and pain in his back. He indicated to the physician that the pain was a progression of his earlier work injury. In his notes, the doctor indicated that there was “enough connection and symptoms to consider this possibly related” to the initial injury. The claimant was referred to a neurosurgeon. However, the specialist found little more than some mild abnormalities and was unable to make a clear diagnosis.

In the meantime, the claimant filed a request with the state’s worker’s compensation bureau to have his new medical bills covered, asserting that his back pain was directly related to his old work injury.

He was subsequently seen by a spinal specialist, who found a tear in a vertebrae that could have manifested itself initially as a hip injury.

Then, the claimant underwent an independent medical examination. The result of that was that while there was still evidence of the hip injury he had suffered at work two years earlier, there was no evidence of a back injury, and further no indication that if there was a back injury that it was related to the earlier work incident.

The state workers’ compensation board denied the workers’ claim – and also denied coverage of any future medical bills related to his hip injury as well.

The Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that denial of the claim relating to the back injury was justified, but that the hip injury, having been established as a legitimate work injury, was allowed coverage of any bills specifically related.

If you have been injured at work in Spartanburg, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Delacastro v. State ex rel., Wyo. Workers’ Safety & Comp. Div., March 21, 2014, Wyoming Suprem Court

More Blog Entries
Employers Seek to Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs, March 29, 2014, Spartanburg Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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