Workers’ Compensation Process
According to state statutes established in 1935 (which have been amended since then by legislature and by case law), qualifying injured workers can collect payment for medical treatment, temporary total disability, and permanent disability. If an employee is killed at work, the family of the deceased may be eligible for death benefits.
The South Carolina Workers Compensation Act covers most employees and employers in the state with a few key exceptions. These include railway workers, corporate officers (in some situations), agricultural laborers, and small businesses that have fewer than four employees.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Qualification
To qualify for South Carolina workers compensation, employees must meet several qualifications, including the requirements that:
- The employee must have suffered an injury by accident, an occupational disease, or a repetitive stress trauma arising out of and in the course of employment.
- The employee must report the injury to the employer as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days from the accident or injury, or benefits could be forfeited.
- Within two years of the injury, the employee must file a claim with the South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission. Certain exceptions may apply to lengthen this period.
Your employer or your employer’s insurance company may provide compensation for medical care, provided that you get authorization, and that you seek treatment from a doctor or a medical facility that has been pre-approved by the employer.
Of course, many on-the-job accidents involve emergencies that cannot wait — broken bones, lacerations, burns, and head injuries, for instance. In the event of an emergency, a patient can obviously seek care from a nearby hospital or personal physician and seek compensation later.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Payment Rules
The rules for disbursal of benefits can get complicated. If you get hurt, and you cannot work for over seven days, you can get compensation for your lost income beginning from the eighth day at a rate of two-thirds your average weekly wage. There is a ceiling on this compensation, however. You can only collect up to a maximum of the state’s average weekly wage, as calculated by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. The Commission recalculates this ceiling every year.
You cannot collect weekly benefits for your first week that the doctor write you out of work. However, if you have been out for more than 14 days, you can collect benefits that count retroactively from the date of your injury. But those benefits will not be payable until your 15th day off work, and it invariably takes longer than that before you have that money in your hands available to pay bills.
How long will you continue to receive weekly payments?
Weekly payments will continue as long as your approved doctor says you cannot return to work. There is also a cap on the total benefits an injured employee can receive. It is equal to 500 weeks of compensation payments. This cap does not apply in cases of paraplegia, quadriplegia, or brain damage.