What is workers’ compensation?
Under South Carolina law, some workers who have been injured on their job (where there are four or more employees) may receive medical care and financial compensation without having to prove the employer was at fault in the accident. In fact, if the workers’ compensation laws apply under the circumstances, then these laws are the worker’s only remedy, and the employee cannot sue an employer for injuries received on the job.
What types of accidents or injuries are covered by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act?
The workers’ compensation statutes cover workers who have been injured while working “within the scope” of their employment. For example, any injury suffered by an employee at the employer’s place of business during working hours would be covered whereas an injury that is sustained while traveling to or from work usually would not be covered except, for example, where the employee is injured when the employer provides transportation to a work site.
The workers’ compensation laws cover accidents (such as sustain injuries while operating machinery) and cover injuries caused by normal work activities such as back injuries from lifting, physical and emotional problems caused by work related stress, and repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Sometimes, however, the employer may not be responsible for the employee’s injuries if such injuries were causes by voluntary intoxication, or by failure to use safety equipment.
What type of benefits can I get for my injuries?
Regarding your medical expenses for a job-related injury, they can all be paid by workers’ compensation regardless of whether you miss any work. However, your employer has the right to choose which doctor treats you. If you refuse to accept the treatment provided by such doctor, then you lose the right to compensation. If you wish to see your own doctor, then you must pay the costs.
If you miss work, you made be paid two-thirds of your average wages/salary (not to exceed a maximum weekly amount that is set by the Workers’ Compensation Commission) for the time missed, excluding the first seven days you cannot work (unless you miss work for more than 14 days, in which case you may be paid for the first seven days) for a maximum of 500 weeks, except for injuries resulting in brain damage or cause the worker to be a paraplegic or a quadriplegic for which benefits are paid for a lifetime. These benefits are nontaxable.
If you return to “light duty” or work part-time while you are recovering from your injuries and you are being paid less that what you normally received before the accident, then you may be entitled to compensation for two-thirds of the difference between your normal wages/salary and your part-time or light duty pay until you reach maximum medical improvement.
Even if you can work, you may receive payment for certain parts of your body that are permanently injured.
I was hurt on the job. What should I do?
First, you should immediately report your injury to a supervisor (you have a total of 90 days within which to make your report). In doing so, you should make record of the following: (1) the time and place of the injury; (2) the circumstances surrounding the injury; (3) the scope of your injury; and (4) the names of witnesses.
Typically, to receive benefits, you must file your claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years of the date of your injury. The claim is assigned to a workers’ compensation commission who hold a hearing to determine, among other things, (1) if your claim is valid; (2) if you are entitled to benefits; (3) if temporary benefits should stop; (4) if you are ready to return to work; and (5) if you are entitled to an award for any permanent disability.
What happens if I am injured at work by someone other than my employer or co-workers?
If a third party causes your injury, then you may bring legal action against the third party and also file a workers’ compensation claim. For example, if you were injured on the job by a customer, then you could sue the customer and file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer.
The Charleston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Futeral & Nelson, LLC help those who have been injured on the job in Charleston, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Moncks Corner, James Island, West Ashley, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Awendaw, McClellanville and the surrounding areas.