Will Workers' Compensation Cover an Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Injury?

Many times when people are involved in a work accident, they will aggravate an old injury. We oftentimes hear concerns from these individuals that the Workers’ Compensation (“WC”) insurance carrier MAY NOT cover medical treatment for these types of re-injuries.  So the question in South Carolina becomes, is a work accident that aggravates and/or makes worse a pre-existing injury covered by the employer’s WC insurance carrier?

The simple answer to this question is YES.  According to S.C. Code Ann. § 42-9-35 -  

(A) The employee shall establish by a preponderance of the evidence, including medical evidence, that:

(1) the subsequent injury aggravated the preexisting condition or permanent physical impairment; or

(2) the preexisting condition or the permanent physical impairment aggravates the subsequent injury. 

What does this mean to my WC injury and claim?  If your WC claim is denied because of an aggravation of a pre-existing injury, it is necessary that YOU obtain the opinion of your treating physician that “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty,” that it is more probable than not that the work accident aggravated the pre-existing condition. How can I obtain this medical opinion?
 
 If your claim is denied because of this particular situation, it is always best to discuss your claim with attorneys experienced in these matters.  As attorneys working with WC clients on a daily basis, Ernie Trammell and Roy Trammell have spent countless hours drafting doctor affidavits for clients whose claims are being temporarily denied because of this reason.   
 
What if my pre-existing condition is degenerative in nature?
 
If your work accident aggravates and/or makes worse a condition like arthritis, your employer’s carrier must cover the claim.  As noted above though, a treating physician does have to document that in his opinion based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty that it is more probable than not that the work accident aggravated the arthritis in the body part injured.  
 
Regardless of your Workers' Compensation question or issue, we are here to help. If you have been injured on the job, please give us a call for your free consultation. Call us at 1-864-231-7171, find us on Facebook, or Twitter. We are here to help. 

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY ROY TRAMMELL, a Workers' Compensation attorney. 

Traffic Light Disputes in South Carolina

It's interesting how many people trust that the opposing party in a dispute will have the same recollection of facts from that incident as they do. Traffic Signal, or traffic light, disputes are often times a prime example of polar opposite accounts of the same motor vehicle collision.  Regardless of who had the right of way, turn signal, green light, red light, yellow light, or flashing light, someone apparently failed to do something when two vehicles collide.

Sure there are very rare instances in which a glitch may exist in the actual traffic control device but let's focus on the 95% rather than the 5% probability. One, or more, parties of the motor vehicle accident  failed to do what they were suppose to do when approaching an intersection. Unfortunately, when there has been a traumatic collision and various parties are being transported by EMS, the investigating officer is not able to properly evaluate the collision but must use their best judgment, experience, and observations of the scene, property damage, and any eye witness accounts. 

Did you know that even when the investigating officer finalizes and publishes their accident report, that report can not be used as "evidence of the negligence or due care of either party at the trial of any action at law to recover damages"?

The positive thing about the above statement is that insurance companies, a/k/a evil empires, can not use those reports against you if you believe the information to be in error. However, you will have to gather as much information as you can from independent witnesses, pictures of the area, possibly employ an accident reconstructionist, and/or attorney. 

It's sad to think you must immediately begin preparing for a battle after being violently rammed by another vehicle while they were texting, drinking, and/or high on methamphetamine but if you can't trust that the violating party will be honest or the investigating officer to be diligent, then who else are you going to trust?  Are you going to trust the at fault driver's insurance company? BWWWWWAAAAAAAAHAAHAAA, it's 5:00am and I just fell out of my chair laughing uncontrollably. Are you going to trust your insurance company? BWWWWWWAAAAAHHHAAHHAAA. I did it again. 

Well you can always read the below definitions and try and argue that to the insurance company. Oh dont do it to me again, I am just now getting back settled in my chair. I have made this process easier by posting the definitions and rules in the state of South Carolina at the end of this article.

The most important thing to remember is to always and at all times be your own advocate in instances where you realize there is going to be conflicting stories from opposing parties with differing interests as to how one incident happened. --Trey Mills

 

SECTION 56-5-550. Traffic-control signal. 

Any device, whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic is alternately directed to stop and to proceed is a "traffic-control signal." 

SECTION 56-5-580. Right-of-way. 

"Right-of-way" is the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian approaching under such circumstances of direction, speed and proximity as to give rise to danger of collision unless one grants precedence to the other. 

SECTION 56-5-1260. Immediate report of accidents resulting in personal injury or death. 

The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately by the quickest means of communication, whether oral or written, give notice of such accident to the local police department if such accident occurs within a municipality, otherwise to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.


SECTION 56-5-1290. Evidentiary use of reports. None of the reports required by Sections 56-5-1260 to 56-5-1280 may be evidence of the negligence or due care of either party at the trial of any action at law to recover damages. However, law enforcement officers may refer to these reports when testifying in order to refresh their recollection of events. 

SECTION 56-5-2120. Required position and method of turning. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows: 
(a) Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. 

(b) Left turns. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicle on the roadway being entered. 

(c) The Department of Transportation and local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic-control devices to be placed and thereby require and direct that a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by turning vehicles and when such devices are so placed no driver shall turn a vehicle other than as directed and required by such devices. 

(d) Two-way left turn lanes. Where a special lane for making left turns by drivers proceeding in the opposite directions has been indicated by official traffic-control devices: 

1. A left turn shall not be made from any other lane. 

2. A vehicle shall not be driven in the lane except when preparing for or making a left turn from or into the roadway or when preparing for or making a U turn when otherwise permitted by law. 

SECTION 56-5-2120. Required position and method of turning. 

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn shall do so as follows: 

(a) Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. 

(b) Left turns. The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left shall approach the turn in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made to the left of the center of the intersection so as to leave the intersection or other location in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the same direction as the vehicle on the roadway being entered. 

(c) The Department of Transportation and local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic-control devices to be placed and thereby require and direct that a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by turning vehicles and when such devices are so placed no driver shall turn a vehicle other than as directed and required by such devices. 

(d) Two-way left turn lanes. Where a special lane for making left turns by drivers proceeding in the opposite directions has been indicated by official traffic-control devices: 

1. A left turn shall not be made from any other lane. 

2. A vehicle shall not be driven in the lane except when preparing for or making a left turn from or into the roadway or when preparing for or making a U turn when otherwise permitted by law. 

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-402; 1952 Code Section 46-402; 1949 (46) 466; 1977 Act No. 144 Section 1; 1993 Act No. 181, Section 1412. 

SECTION 56-5-2150. Turning movements and required signals. 

(a) No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety nor without giving an appropriate signal as provided for in this section. 

(b) A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. 

(c) No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided herein to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give such signal. 

(d) The signals required on vehicles by subsection (b) of Section 56-5-2180 shall not be flashed on one side only on a disabled vehicle, flashed as a courtesy or "do pass" signal to operators of other vehicles approaching from the rear, nor be flashed on one side only of a parked vehicle except as may be necessary for compliance with this section. 

SECTION 56-5-2310. Vehicles approaching or entering intersection. 

(a) When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection from different highways at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right. 

(b) The right-of-way rule in subsection (a) is modified at through highways and as otherwise provided in this chapter. 

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 46-421; 1952 Code Section 46-421; 1949 (46) 466; 1977 Act No. 144 Section 5. 

SECTION 56-5-2320. Vehicle turning left. 

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard. 
 
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