Mike Chase and Sam Sammataro Prevail on Behalf of Employer in Workers’ Compensation Matter
The claimant alleged he sustained a compensable hernia injury while moving heavy equipment at the employer’s mill. The employer and carrier denied the claim on the basis that ample medical evidence established the hernia existed prior to the accident. The single commissioner denied benefits consistent with S.C. Code § 42-9-40, which bars compensation for pre-existing hernias and ruptures. The full commission affirmed. On appeal to the circuit court, the claimant argued for the first time that his condition was worsened by the workplace incident and that “hernia” and “rupture” are two distinct injuries. The circuit court affirmed on the basis that substantial evidence supported the denial of benefits based on pre-existing condition and the evidence did not support the claimant’s attempt to distinguish “hernia” from “rupture.” The court of appeals affirmed. The court agreed that substantial evidence supported the denial of benefits because it demonstrated a non-compensable, pre-existing injury. Further, the court determined the claimant had waived his statutory construction arguments because he never raised them at the commission level.