How Do I Get Workers’ Compensation In South Carolina?
Understanding workers’ rights, step-by-step
The workers’ compensation process can be intimidating and complicated. After a devastating injury, the last thing you and your family want to deal with is a bunch of paperwork and legalese. A system that promises to protect injured workers shouldn’t be hard to understand. Let Lourie Law Firm, LLC simply the process for you. We believe in workers’ rights, and we’ll fight for them all the way to a hearing if that’s what it takes.
What Qualifies as a “Work Related” Injury?
An injury or illness is work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Many types of injuries can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Common Workplace Injuries
What Should I Do After an Injury?
- Notify your employer immediately. You have 90 days to report an injury. If you fail to report an injury within 90 days, you may lose your right to benefits. If the injury is reported within 90 days, you then have up to two years to file a claim for benefits.
- Request medical treatment, if needed. Under South Carolina law, the employer or its insurance representative chooses the doctor. Most already have a designated doctor or clinic they use to treat injured workers.
- Contact a workers’ compensation attorney. No matter what your employer or the insurance company says, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. The employer and its insurance carrier will be looking out for their interest, you need legal representation to look out for yours.
What Benefits Am I Entitled to Receive?
There are several types of workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can be divided into five categories: 1) temporary disability benefits; 2) medical benefits; 3) permanent disability benefits; 4) death benefits; and 5) disfigurement benefits.
Temporary Disability Benefits or Lost Wages: There are two types of temporary disability benefits: total and partial. You are entitled to temporary total benefits if the doctor takes you out of work. Temporary partial benefits are paid if you can work but earning less than your pre-injury wages. Both benefits have a seven-day waiting period. If you are out of work for more than seven days, the insurance carrier will make payments to you beginning on day eight. If you are out of work more than 14 days, you will receive benefits for the first seven days. Payments will continue every week until terminated in accordance with the law.
The amount of weekly compensation you receive is called your “compensation rate.” This is 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage based on the four quarters prior to your injury, but no more than the maximum average weekly wage set yearly by the State.
Medical Benefits: You are entitled to any medical treatment that is likely to lessen your disability. This includes medical, surgical, hospitalization, medical supplies, prosthetic devices, and prescriptions. However, to receive these benefits, you must go to the doctor or hospital chosen by your employer or its insurance company.
Permanent Disability Benefits: There are three types of permanent benefits one may be entitled to under South Carolina workers’ compensation laws: (1) permanent total disability; (2) permanent partial disability; and (3) scheduled member benefits.
You may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits when your incapacity for work resulting from an injury is total. South Carolina law caps permanent total disability benefits at 500 weeks except for individuals determined to be permanently and totally disabled from an injury that resulted in paraplegia, quadriplegia or physical brain damage.
Permanent partial disability provides compensation for decreased wage earning capacity. You may be entitled to permanent partial disability if your injury, while severe, does not take you completely out of work. Permanent partial disability benefits are appropriate if you can still work but not at your previous capacity and must engage in an occupation that does not pay as well as your occupation at the time of the accident.
South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act contains a list of certain body parts or “scheduled members.” If you permanently injure one of these body parts in a work-related accident, you are entitled to compensation, depending on the severity of your injury. This compensation may be for total loss of use or partial loss of use. If your loss of use is total, you are entitled to compensation based on the number of weeks assigned to that particular body part. For instance, the loss of an arm is worth 220 weeks multiplied by your compensation rate or two-thirds of your average weekly wage. However, if the loss to your arm is partial, then you are entitled to a specific payment depending on the severity of your injury based on the “impairment rating” given by the doctor.
Death Benefits: Death benefits may be available to replace a portion of family income lost when an employee dies because of a work-related injury or illness. Eligible dependents of the deceased employee may receive 500 weeks of compensation computed at 66 2/3 percent of the worker’s weekly wage plus burial expenses not to exceed $2,500. However, there are exceptions to this rule. To receive death benefits, a claim must be filed with the WCC within two (2) years of the employee's death. Claims not filed with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within that period may be forever barred.
Disfigurement: Benefits are allowed for serious permanent disfigurement of the face, head, neck and other areas normally exposed in employment. Compensation cannot exceed 50 weeks, and you cannot receive compensation for disfigurement and disability to the same body part except in cases of serious burns or keloid scars.
What If My Claim Was Denied?
Unfortunately, legitimate claims are denied. The employer or its insurance carrier may claim the injury was not reported in time or that the injury happened outside of work. If your claim was denied, you may appeal the denial to the Workers’ Compensation Commission. A successful appeal requires the right evidence and legal knowledge. If you believe your claim has been wrongfully denied or that you are not getting all of the benefits to which you are entitled, don’t cause yourself further stress by trying to file a claim on your own; contact the experienced lawyers at Lourie Law Firm to help you.
We’re here to help you heal
At the Lourie Law Firm, LLC, you are our number one priority. Not only are you entitled to benefits, you’re entitled to peace of mind. Start by contacting us for a free case consultation; we’ll evaluate your situation and help determine what the best courses of action are for you to regain your quality of life. Focus on your recovery while we fight for the results you need.