In South Carolina, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if you meet the following two qualifications:
- You were physically injured in an on-the-job accident, and
- You work for a company that is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance
Below is a brief overview of who qualifies for workers’ compensation in South Carolina, the laws governing who may collect workers’ compensation, and under what circumstances they may do so.
Not All Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
S.C. Ann. § 42-1-160 is very specific about what does and does not count as an injury for workers’ compensation purposes. For instance, a physical injury resulting from a one-off accident (as opposed to injuries that occur from wear and tear over time) usually qualifies an employee to get workers’ compensation benefits.
By contrast, it can be very difficult to receive workers’ compensation for a mental injury (e.g., psychological trauma) unless you can prove that the mental injury was caused by a job-related physical injury.
South Carolina law also defines death as a compensable injury. If a worker passed away as a result of an on-the-job accident, their dependents and/or their surviving spouse might be eligible to receive workers’ compensation.
Certain Employers Are Required to Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
According to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), if a business has four or more employees, they are legally required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for those employees. This applies to both full-time and part-time employees. It also applies to minors and workers who are not U.S. citizens.
The rules governing workers’ compensation insurance apply to various employers, from nonprofits to general contractors. In some cases, a general contractor may require a subcontractor to pay for workers’ compensation for their employees, regardless of how many employees the subcontractor has.
S.C. Ann. § 42-1-360 does make some exceptions regarding which employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Federal employers are exempt, as are agricultural and railway employers. Employees working for such businesses, therefore, cannot qualify for workers’ compensation.
Apply for Workers’ Compensation After Reporting Your Injury to Your Employer
In order to receive workers’ compensation, you must ask for it. First, you must report your injury to your employer. According to the WCC, you have 90 days to do this.
Once the injury has been reported, someone must apply for benefits within two years of the accident. Your employer might do this for you. If you miss any deadlines, your claim might get denied.
In some cases, your employer might not cooperate with your attempts to claim workers’ compensation benefits. They might deny that your injury took place on the job, or that your claim was somehow overlooked or forgotten.
In that case, you may file a claim on your own behalf or on behalf of a loved one who died due to a work-related injury. In cases where the worker died from their injuries, only their surviving spouse and/or surviving dependent relatives are eligible to apply for benefits.
You Can Request a Hearing if Your Claim Gets Denied
If your claim for workers’ compensation gets denied, or if you believe that you are not receiving the amount of compensation you are entitled to collect, you have options. You may request a hearing with the WCC in South Carolina.
A workers’ compensation commissioner will then be assigned to your case. Once your request is received and processed, a commissioner will order one of the following:
- Mediation: This is sometimes the first step in resolving a dispute. You and the opposing party will be ordered to choose a certified mediator, who will sit down with you both and try to negotiate an agreement.
- A hearing: By applying for a hearing, you are telling the Workers’ Compensation Commission that you would like the chance to argue your case before a commissioner.
If a mediator cannot help you reach an agreement, your case may go to a hearing. If you or the opposing party disagree with the outcome of a hearing, you may appeal for a new hearing before the WCC.
We Can Help You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Dealing with an on-the-job accident and its legal aftermath can be intimidating. This is especially true when the question of who qualifies for workers’ compensation in South Carolina turns out to be more complex than you first thought. However, you do not have to go it alone.
George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers can handle all of the legal aspects of your case so that you can focus on what really matters: getting better and back to work. Call us or fill out our online form today for a free consultation.