Every state has its own individual requirements and benefits for injured workers filing for workers' compensation. South Carolina mandates specific medical and financial benefits as well as avenues for arbitration of denied claims.
It's important to know your rights and responsibilities when you are forced to apply for workers' compensation in South Carolina in order to receive the full benefits to which you are entitled and challenge any denial of your claim.
What Is Workers' Compensation?
Workers' compensation is a benefit program for workers who are injured in the course of performing the duties of their job. The benefits must be paid by any employer with four or more employees employer through an insurance provider paid by the employer to handle workers compensation claims.
Benefits include weekly financial compensation determined by the worker's actual wages and medical care for the duration of the injury. They may also involve compensation for permanent injuries for the worker or death benefits for their survivors.
What Is the Process for Filing for Workers' Compensation?
All workplace injuries should be reported to a supervisor at once, noting the time of day, the activity performed, and any witnesses to the event if possible. However, the injury must be reported within 90 days to avoid loss of benefits and a claim filed within two years of the date of the injury.
You should first attempt to file a claim through your employer. If the employer fails to report your claim or denies that the injury occurred according to your claim, you must file a claim with the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission yourself.
How is Weekly Compensation Determined and Paid?
Upon approval of your claim, you will be paid two-thirds of your average gross (before taxes and deductions) weekly wage. Your gross weekly wage is determined by averaging the weekly wage of the four quarters before your injury occurred, not only by your weekly wage at the time of the incident.
Your weekly benefit can't exceed the state's average weekly wage as determined by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. For example, the current average wage (beginning January 1, 2018) is $838.21. Weekly benefits paid after that date can't exceed this amount.
You must accept light duty work which you are physically able to perform even if it pays less than your pre-injury duties. However, you will receive two-thirds of the difference in wages between the two jobs in weekly benefits until you're able to return to your previous position.
When Does Compensation Begin and When Does It End?
You will not receive compensation for injuries that result in seven days or less time lost. Injuries that result in 8 to 14 days of lost time will be compensated for days 8 through 14 of missed scheduled work days.
You will receive compensation from the date of the injury, including the first week if your injury prevents you from working for more than 14 days.
Compensation will cease when the assigned doctor determines that you are able to return to work at full prior capacity.
What Types of Medical Benefits Are Provided?
An injured worker is provided with all medical care needed to lessen the impact of the injury. This includes hospitalization, medical equipment, and supplies, like prescriptions. These benefits are provided upon acceptance of treatment by a doctor chosen by the employer or their representative.
You are also entitled to mileage compensation for the use of your vehicle to travel to and from the assigned doctor's office as well as the pharmacy if the round trip exceeds 10 miles.
You may request a different doctor from your employer, but they can deny the request. You can then request a hearing before a workers' compensation commissioner to judge the validity of your reasons for your request.
You may appeal the decision of a commissioner before a panel of three commissioners, and then to the State Court of Appeals if necessary. This type of activity is obviously difficult, so the guidance of a legal firm is strongly needed.
In the Lexington, South Carolina area, the Cofield Law Firm is ready to help you at every step of the process.