Aiken Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina - Jeff Morris
Workers’ compensation is a type of state-mandated insurance that covers work-related injuries, illnesses and death. It is designed to cover the worker’s medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation and disability. It does not matter who was at fault for the accident - a worker is entitled to this coverage. In addition, if the worker is killed on the job due to a work-related injury, their family will receive death benefits.
Advantages of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ comp provides a way to cover household expenses and provide financial support after an injury on the job. For most families, this is an important safety net. Morris Law fights for a worker’s right to receive the full benefits they deserve. If a third party caused the accident, we will help you decide whether to place a personal injury lawsuit against them.
Employees have the following rights in South Carolina:
- Employees have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim without fear of retaliation. This includes being fired from your job or put in a lower-paying position.
- An employee has the right to appeal the decision if the claim is denied.
- A worker is free to obtain the insight a workers’ compensation lawyer in South Carolina can offer.
Location of the Accident
For you or your family to recover workers’ comp benefits, the claimant must show that the incident was work-related. This means that the incident happened while the worker was doing their job. Besides covering accidents at the work site, workers’ compensation also covers traveling on business, errands related to your job or attending a social function that is work-related. Some exemptions exist:
- Accidents while commuting to and from work are generally not covered. However, if you are using a company car, you may be able to file a claim for an accident.
- Misconduct at work can interfere with obtaining workers’ comp benefits. This includes drunken behavior or breaking an established safety rule.
Cumulative Injuries and Illnesses
Not all work-related injuries are due to a traumatic event such as falling or working on and being injured by a dangerous piece of equipment. Workers’ comp also covers cumulative injuries or repetitive stress injuries. RSIs are those resulting from consistently assuming a posture such as hammering on a nail, striking a keyboard (carpal tunnel syndrome) or using a jackhammer, among others. Cumulative injury from loud noises can lead to hearing loss.
Consistent exposure to illnesses or toxic chemicals are covered by workers’ compensation. In South Carolina, these are called occupational diseases. For example, mesothelioma is related to continued exposure to asbestos. If the disease can be traced to a work-related exposure, workers’ comp benefits are available. In South Carolina, contagious diseases are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in South Carolina
Under the rules of workers’ compensation in South Carolina, the following benefits are available:
- Medical benefits: Workers’ comp pays for all medical expenses that are deemed necessary in South Carolina following an injury. In order to collect the benefits, the worker must have their treatment authorized. If you need to travel to a medical facility that is more than 10 miles away for treatment, mileage will be compensated.
- Temporary disability benefits: When a recovering worker is unable to return to work, he or she will receive temporary disability benefits. These benefits will cover a part of the worker’s wages lost by the injury accident. Workers obtain no benefits for the initial seven days except when the disability lasts more than 14 days.
- Temporary total disability benefits: If a worker is totally unable to work at his or her job, they can receive ⅔ of their weekly wage prior to the injury. The maximum amount as of January 1, 2021, is $903.40. Your South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to tell you more about what you can receive. These benefits continue until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, or you are cleared to return to work.
- Temporary partial disability benefits: This payment is obtained when a worker, recovering from their injury, can return to work but will not be able to earn the same wage as before. In such cases, a physician often places restrictions on the type of work that is possible, such as limiting lifting, hours or posture. This is calculated as ⅔ of the difference between prior and current wages. For example, if you earned $400 per week prior to the accident and $200 afterward, the disability payment would be ⅔ of $200 or $133.33. A worker can receive partial disability payments for 340 weeks or 85 months. If the worker received total disability payments before partial disability payments, they will still be eligible for 340 weeks.
- Permanent disability benefits: Once you have completed treatment, your physician will evaluate you using the level of injury, loss of a body part or the loss of earning capacity.
- Permanent total disability due to a specific injury: Total disability exists if the worker lost upper or lower appendages bilaterally or their legs or hips. Loss of vision in both eyes or half of their back strength and function are reasons to be considered totally disabled. Permanent total disability payments are the same as those for temporary total disability payments and for the same maximum and minimum limits. In South Carolina they exist for 500 weeks. However, if the worker is a paraplegic, quadriplegic or has a permanent brain injury, the benefits will not expire for the lifetime of the individual.
If an injury or occupational illness causes the death of a worker, the family will receive death benefits for 500 weeks. The amount is the same as that received for total disability. However, the benefit is divided among surviving family members. There is a burial expense that is currently up to $12,000.
When You Need a Lawyer
If your injury is work-related, the injury is mild without the need for extensive medical treatment and will not keep you out of work for an extended time, you may not need an attorney. However, if your doctor assigns you a disability rating and it is disputed by the insurer, you may be sent to an independent medical examiner. If the IMF lowers your disability rating, the insurer will pay you less. Your attorney can help you become classified correctly.
Other instances when you require the insight of an attorney is when you are having trouble being treated correctly. Insurers often delay treatment that is vital. Preexisting conditions worsened by your injury can also pose a problem. Your lawyer will obtain medical expert opinion to prove that a prior injury is not the reason you are suffering. If you can no longer work at your current job, you should receive training for another position as part of your workers’ comp benefits.
Sometimes, you may need to attend a hearing, particularly if the insurer is unwilling to provide the assistance you need. Your attorney will accompany you to the hearing where they will be your representative.
Morris Law Firm - Myrtle Beach and Aiken Area
Morris Law keeps abreast of updates to the constantly changing parameters of workers’ compensation law. We consistently work to ensure that clients receive the benefits they deserve and help them navigate through the complexities of workers’ compensation. We are at your side from start to finish in an exceedingly difficult period. Call us at (803) 470-4444 to schedule a free case review.