Hargrove v. Carolina Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, PA, No. 4695 (S.C. Ct. App. 06/07/10).
The South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that a receptionist was not entitled to workers' compensation benefits because she could not prove her medical problems occurred from a workplace injury.
What it means: Claimants in South Carolina must prove that their injuries were work-related. If they do not, their workers' compensation claim will be denied.
Summary: A receptionist for an orthopedic surgeon fell at work when her chair hit a runner. She consulted with a doctor in her office. She clocked out for the appointment although this was not required for a work-related injury. Also, she did not indicate that her problem was work-related on the patient registration form. She was diagnosed with a back injury that required surgery. Her supervisor stated that the receptionist told her that her back pain was a result of caring for her invalid brother. The receptionist never told anyone that she planned to file a workers' compensation claim. The receptionist retired and filed a workers' compensation claim. The South Carolina Court of Appeals held that the receptionist failed to prove that her back problems resulted from a workplace injury, so her claim for workers' compensation benefits was denied.
The receptionist argued that her fall at work caused her injury. Since she clocked out for her doctor's appointment even though this was not a requirement for a workplace injury, the doctor she consulted with in her office was unaware that her problems were a result of her fall, and she reported having back pain from caring for her invalid brother, she could not prove that the injury was work-related. The court noted that the receptionist's behavior indicated that she herself did not consider her injury to be work-related.
The receptionist also argued that the employer did not raise the issue of causation, so it was unfair to deny the claim on that ground. The employer had reserved the right to assert any applicable defenses supported by evidence. The court held that an employer who had responded to a workers' compensation claim can assert a general denial of liability.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 23, 2010
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