A spinal cord stimulator implantation, by itself, does not constitute indirect injury for wage loss

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In Colonna v Marlboro Park Hospital (Op. No. 5117, April 17, 2013), the claimant slipped on a wet floor and injured her right ankle and foot. To treat the pain, her physician implanted a spinal cord stimulator in her back. Claimant alleged this entitled her to make a wage loss claim under § 42-9-10 on the ground the spinal cord stimulator affected another body part, her back. The South Carolina Court of Appeals rejected that argument and affirmed the Commission’s denial of claimant’s wage loss claim.

The Court of Appeals based its decision based on Singleton v. Young Lumber Co., 236 S.C. 454-471, 114 S.E.2d 837, 845 (1960). In Singleton, the South Carolina Supreme Court held, “Where the injury is confined to the scheduled member, and there is no impairment of any other body part because of such injury, the employee is limited to the scheduled compensation [pursuant to Section 42-9-30] . . . To obtain compensation in addition to that scheduled for the injured member, claimant must show that some other part of his body is affected.” (Emphasis added). The Singleton rule recognizes that when two or more injuries occur together, the disabling effect may be far greater than the arithmetical total of the schedule allowances added together. Accordingly, whether claimant was permanently and totally disabled depended on whether her initial injury (and the resulting implantation) had a disabling effect on her back.

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