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Injured bakery worker entitled to additional comp benefits: Appeals court


A South Carolina appellate court has ruled that an injured bakery worker should have been permitted to obtain additional workers compensation benefits following a 2016 workplace injury.  

The Court of Appeals of South Carolina on Wednesday found that Mary Hickman was entitled to receive additional medical care relating to her Aug. 22, 2016, injury.

Ms. Hickman, who worked as a tortilla stacker for Ruiz Foods, slipped and fell on the concrete floor, injuring her knee, elbow and back.

She received medical treatment for two years and later petitioned for additional benefits including additional medical care and temporary total disability benefits.

The employer denied the claim for additional benefits, claiming that knee problems Ms. Hickman experienced weren’t related to the work incident. A comp commissioner found Ms. Hickman was at maximum medical improvement and wasn’t entitled to further care, and a lower appellate panel upheld the finding.

In South Carolina, employers aren’t liable for medical care beyond 10 weeks unless the comp commission determines the treatment will lessen the disability.

Ms. Hickman argued the commission erred in determining her disability period wouldn’t be shortened by continued medical treatment. The appeals court agreed, ruling the commission wrongly determined the knee problems were “resolved” at the time Ms. Hickman petitioned for additional benefits.

The court said a doctor performing an independent medical evaluation determined the knee injury had “improved,” but was not “resolved.”

The court remanded the case to the comp commission, ordering that Ms. Hickman be awarded continued medical treatment.