Workers’ Compensation for Back Injuries in South Carolina

Back injuries are among the most common workplace injuries in South Carolina and are experienced by employees in a variety of industry sectors. Most employees are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim when they hurt their back at work. 

Private industry employers reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020. According to the National Safety Council, the #2 cause of workplace injuries that required employees to take time off work was overexertion, with the back being the most frequent body part hurt. 

Back injuries come in different forms, including sudden injuries and chronic issues that develop over time. They can happen to anyone – from nurses who lift patients to factory workers who pick up heavy boxes. Construction workers are also very prone to back injuries, due to the physically demanding and often dangerous nature of their work. Even those who sit at a desk all day or take part in repetitive movements at work can experience workplace back injuries.

How do I know if my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?

Almost all employers with more than four full-time or part-time employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina. There are a few exceptions, such as agricultural employees, railroad employees, Textile Hall Corporation employees, and some real estate agents. If you have any questions, reach out to your company’s HR department.

What if I was responsible for my workplace back injury?

South Carolina is a “no fault” workers’ compensation state, which means you are not required to prove your employer was directly at fault for your back injury. You must simply demonstrate that the injury occurred at work. 

What should I do if I hurt my back at work?

If your back injury is an emergency, you should call 911 or get a co-worker to drive you to the hospital right away. Otherwise, your top priority should be to report your injury to your supervisor. 

Oftentimes, there isn’t one particular incident that hurts a person’s back. Many people develop chronic back problems over time, due to the nature of their work. Other times, a person’s pre-existing condition might be worsened because of their work duties. Both of these scenarios are also covered under workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina and should be reported to your supervisor as soon as you realize there’s a problem. 

In South Carolina, you have a limited amount of time to report a workplace accident to your employer, so it’s important to notify your employer as soon as possible. For chronic back problems or repetitive trauma, there is also a limited number of days from the time you discovered there was a problem.

You’re advised to report any back problems as soon as possible. This will allow the workers’ compensation process to get started sooner and will lessen the opportunity for your employer’s insurance company to downplay your injury or claim it occurred someplace other than work. 

How long do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim?

You have two years from the date of your injury to file a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina.

Can I see any doctor for my back injury?

It might seem natural to go to your own doctor after injuring your back at work, but South Carolina workers’ compensation law requires you to abide by the rules laid out by your employer and/or their insurance company. The insurance company will usually have a list of providers they prefer, and they will choose one of those for you for your medical treatment to be covered. 

During your first doctor’s visit, be sure to tell the physician about the full extent of all your injuries. This information will be vital to your case.

What if my employer ignores my back injury?

Your employer should file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission on your behalf. However, some employers choose to ignore or deny their employees’ workplace injuries. If this happens, you should contact our firm for guidance on your next steps. We have many years of experience helping injured workers and we have helped thousands of workers get the benefits they deserve. Remember, it won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®

What kind of expenses are covered under South Carolina workers’ compensation law?

Workers are typically entitled to compensation at the rate of 66 ⅔ percent of their average weekly wage, based on the four quarters prior to the injury – but no more than the maximum average weekly wage determined each year by the state.

South Carolina workers’ compensation law also allows for all necessary medical treatment to be paid for by the company or their insurance provider. This can include prescription medication, medical supplies, hospitalization, surgery, prosthetic devices, and more. You may also be eligible for a disfigurement award if your injury has left you with visible scars and/or burns

You can also get reimbursed for mileage driven to doctor’s appointments and your pharmacy, if the round-trip distance to each location is more than 10 miles from your home. The reimbursement rate is the same standard rate given to South Carolina state employees. 

If you sustained a permanent back injury, you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. That amount is determined by the severity of your injury and your average weekly wage.

Do I have to accept an offer of light duty work from my employer?

If you’ve been given light duty restrictions and your employer assigns light duty work, you must accept it. If you refuse, your compensation may cease. If you believe you’re unable to do the work you were assigned, you have a right to a Commission hearing. 

Do I need to hire a lawyer for my workers’ compensation claim?

Back injury workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina can be complicated. Filing a claim can be an overwhelming process for those who have never done it before, especially those who are already dealing with a serious back injury. 

A qualified South Carolina back injury attorney will be able to represent you and look out for your best interests. They know exactly how the system works, how to submit the appropriate paperwork, and how to push back when the other side isn’t playing fair. They know how to best argue your case and will be prepared to file an appeal in the event that your claim is rejected by your employer or their insurance company.

Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates today

The workers’ compensation attorneys at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates are passionate about getting injured employees what they deserve following their workplace back injury. 

For more than 45 years, our law firm has worked on behalf of South Carolina back injury victims. We fight hard for every single one of our clients, refusing to settle for low-ball offers. 

We’re highly experienced with South Carolina workers’ compensation law, and we know how to fight against insurance companies who only care about their bottom line – not your health.

If you’ve hurt your back at work, call us for a free case evaluation at 888-353-5513. We have seven offices across the Midlands of South Carolina and are ready to help.