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Workers’ Compensation – Preexisting Psychological Condition – Aggravation – Denial of Claim

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//September 29, 2021

Workers’ Compensation – Preexisting Psychological Condition – Aggravation – Denial of Claim

By: S.C. Lawyers Weekly staff//September 29, 2021

Where the parties had a true joint physical custody arrangement, the appellant-mother’s relocation from Greenville to Columbia presents an issue of first impression as to whether there was a substantial change of circumstances warranting a review of the children’s best interests. We find that there was.

We affirm the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s denial of claimant’s claim for benefits for aggravation of a preexisting psychological condition.


Claimant was injured at work after falling backwards into a handtruck, striking her head and suffering lacerations. Claimant only accepted first aid treatment at the factory and finished her shift, although she alleged that she had some blurred vision and a headache. Claimant continued working for the next week, and a CT scan showed normal results.

Employer’s workers’ compensation physician suspected claimant had suffered a concussion, after claimant complained of severe migraine headaches, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, mood swings, and muscle spasms after the accident. For months, claimant complained of significant headaches, neck pain, and worsening depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. Claimant also underwent speech therapy, which revealed mild impairment of attention, memory, and executive function. Claimant’s medical records stretching back for years prior to the accident also characterized claimant as suffering from chronic depression.

Claim for Benefits Denied

Claimant filed a claim for benefits for aggravating of her preexisting psychological conditions. A commissioner denied claimant’s claim, finding claimant to be not credible in her testimony regarding her subjective complaints and her past medical and mental health treatment. The commissioner found claimant “wily and manipulative” and suggested claimant was seeking secondary gain from the workers’ compensation system.

The appellate panel affirmed the commissioner’s order, rejecting claimant’s argument that the commissioner rejected the medical evidence and relied solely on the credibility determination to deny the claim.

Claimant argued that the commissioner erred in relying on a medical report that was not stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty. We find that this issue was not preserved for appellate review as claimant failed to raise it in her exceptions to the commissioner’s order. We also find that the prior compensation order was properly admitted to rebut certain aspects of claimant’s testimony, noting that the commissioner stated she did not rely on the prior order’s credibility findings. Finally, we hold that the commissioner’s decision was properly supported by the credibility determinations, which served to weaken claimant’s medical evidence, which showed that claimant had significant psychological issues prior to her accident and that her fall likely did not cause any worsening of her condition.


Rummage v. BGF Industries (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-080-21, 16 pp.) (Aphrodite Konduros, J.) (Stephanie P. McDonald, concurring in the result only) Appealed from the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Andrey Nathan Safran for appellant; Michael Allen Farry and Jeremy R. Summerlin for respondents. S.C. App.

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