A surprisingly high number of workers are hurt or even killed at work each year. In fact, between 2013 and 2014, there was a nationwide increase of 10% in fatal workplace injuries. According to this study, 4,679 fatal work-related injuries occurred in 2014, which equals out to around 3.3 workers killed for every 100,000 full-time employees.
Nonfatal accidents in South Carolina occur more often. According to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, 60,858 new cases were filed between 2014 and 2015. That’s more than sixty thousand on the job injuries where you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. While it is fortunate that these accidents aren’t responsible for taking a worker’s life, they can still have devastating results.
How Do You Pay The Bills If You Can’t Work?
An on the job injury can be disastrous for an individual and the family that relies on them for support. If you suffer an injury on the job, how will you keep money coming in when you can no longer work? How can you make sure your family has the money they need to keep going?
Thankfully, employers who regularly employ more than four workers full-time are required by the state to have workers’ compensation insurance, which exists to help support workers who have suffered temporary or permanent injuries. There are exceptions to this, which include railway employees, Federal employees, agricultural workers, some real estate salespersons, and corporate officers.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Program
Workers’ compensation is a state program to protect hardworking people who sustain injuries while at work. Workers’ compensation covers costs related to an accident, including:
• Payment for medical treatment
• Wage loss benefits
• Compensation for long-term disability or disfigurement
The workers’ compensation system in South Carolina was designed with 6 key objectives in mind:
- Faster Compensation: Providing sure, prompt, and reasonable income and medical benefits to work-related accident victims, or income benefits to their dependents, regardless of fault;
- Reduce Confusion: Providing a single remedy and reducing court delays, costs, and judicial workloads arising out of personal injury litigation;
- Expanding Coverage: Relieving public and private charities of financial demands incident to uncompensated occupational accidents;
- Reducing Legal Costs: Minimizing lawyer’s fees and witnesses as well as time-consuming trials and court appeals;
- Encourage Work Place Safety: Encouraging maximum employer interest in safety and rehabilitation through an appropriate experience-rating mechanism; and
- Promoting frank study of the causes of accidents (rather than the concealment of fault) in an effort to reduce preventable accidents and human suffering.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that even if you were partially or fully at fault for your injury, you are likely still covered. In order to claim benefits, however, you must report your accident to your employer, preferably in writing, within 90 days. Otherwise, you may lose your right to claim benefits. Your employer then has 10 days to report the illness or injury to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, which oversees the payment of benefits.
If your injury leaves you unable to work for seven days or more, you can be considered “temporarily totally disabled” and continue to receive partial wages while you recover. If you still cannot return to work after 14 days, you can receive partial wages (roughly two-thirds your regular pay rate) which will continue until your doctor clears you for a return to work. For permanent injuries, you may be awarded an additional amount on top of your weekly benefits. The maximum total disability or death benefits are limited to 500 weeks of compensation, with exceptions.
Have further questions about South Carolina’s workers’ compensation program? Visit our FAQ or consult with a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers to talk about the specifics of your case. Consultations are FREE, so call us today to get started: (888) 612-7001.