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Psych condition not related to workplace fall: Appeals court

Posted On: Sep. 23, 2021 2:08 PM CST


An appeals court in South Carolina on Tuesday issued an opinion that ruled a woman who suffered a head injury at work cannot attach to her workers compensation claim the aggravation of a preexisting psychological condition.

The woman worked an overnight shift as a weaver for a fiber manufacturer BGF Industries Inc. in 2012 when at about 3 a.m. she fell backward and struck her head after stumbling backward into a hand truck that had been placed behind her while she was doffing her weaving machine. The fall caused “a laceration and scrape marks along her neck” and she declined going to the hospital at that time, and the wound was closed with glue from the company’s first aid supplies, according to documents in Opinion No. 5822, filed in the Court of Appeals of South Carolina in Columbia.

In the following years, the woman continued to complain and be treated for medical issues, indicating “the problems that began after her fall included headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, loss of memory, depression and neck pain,” according to documents that chronicle several visits with specialists. She also had a history of “longstanding” mental issues, according to records.

One doctor opined that “it’s really impossible to tell at this point how much or how little the work injury from… 2012 played into symptoms that she had apparently been experiencing for a few years, several years.” The doctor noted “some of Claimant’s current medications were very similar to prior medications, but some of them were new.”

Citing medical evidence, the state Workers’ Compensation Commission denied her claim for aggravation of a preexisting psychological condition. On similar grounds, the state appeals court affirmed, writing that the woman’s “medical records demonstrated a long-standing history of serious psychological issues.”