If you become injured at work in South Carolina, you usually have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. There are three types of benefits available to workers in the Palmetto State: medical benefits, lost wages, and permanent disability. 

Workplace injuries come in many different forms, and South Carolina workers’ compensation generally covers the following types of incidents:

  • Accidents and injuries – Workers’ compensation covers the accident even if it was the employee’s fault. 
  • Work-related illnesses – When a worker becomes sick due to harmful substances at their workplace.
  • Repetitive stress injuries – Injuries that develop over time due to the demands of a person’s job, such as a secretary developing carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive typing. 

You have 90 days to report a workplace injury to your supervisor. However, you are advised to do so as soon as possible so your employer can get to work on filing the workers’ compensation claim, and you can begin receiving benefits. Another reason to report an injury early is because it lessens the opportunity for your employer to downplay the severity of your injury or claim you were injured elsewhere. 

Types of workers’ compensation benefits

If your South Carolina workers’ compensation claim is successful, you can be awarded benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent disability. 

  • Medical benefits – This covers doctor’s appointments, surgeries, hospitalization, medical supplies, prosthetic devices, and prescriptions. You are also entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses to and from the doctor and the pharmacy if you travel a certain distance to get to the facility.

In the event that a person dies due to their workplace injury, up to $12,000 of their funeral and burial costs will be covered, and their beneficiaries may also be entitled to receive death benefits.

  • Lost wages – The term “lost wages” refers to the full or partial wage you are unable to receive because your injury prevents you from completing all of your usual job tasks. 

If your doctor writes you out of work for more than seven days, you are entitled to temporary compensation for lost wages, beginning on the 8th calendar day following your inability to work. 

If your physician says you cannot work for more than 14 days, you are entitled to receive benefits from the first day of incapacity. 

If your doctor says you can return to work but cannot complete certain tasks, you might find that you are making less than the rate you earned prior to your accident. In this case, you are entitled to receive temporary partial disability compensation. You will receive compensation from your employer for your hours worked and an additional payment from your employer’s insurance representative for a percentage of the difference between your post-injury wages and pre-injury wages. 

  • Permanent disability – This means you are not expected to fully recover from your injury. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement, you (or your lawyer) will enter into settlement negotiations based on the severity of your permanent disability. 

It should be understood that while most South Carolina employers with more than four employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, there are a few exceptions. Those include agricultural employees, railroad employees, Textile Hall Corporation employees, and some real estate agents. If you have questions about your company’s coverage, reach out to your supervisor or HR department for clarification. 

How are workers’ compensation benefits calculated?

In straightforward workers’ compensation cases,the injured worker is eligible to receive 66 ⅔ percent of their average weekly wage based on the four quarters prior to the injury – but not more than the maximum average weekly wage determined annually by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. You are typically eligible to receive a payment every week while you are out of work as a result of your injury. When you return to work, those payments will stop. 

If you are permanently disabled due to your injury, you will be assigned an impairment rating for that disability from the treating physician and will begin settlement negotiations with your employer’s insurance company. While you are not required to hire a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer for these negotiations, it is highly advised that you do so, as insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying out a fair sum.

Although every workers’ compensation case is different, the state of South Carolina has published a Schedule of Period of Disability and Compensation, which outlines the maximum amount of time that benefits can be received when there’s a total loss to certain body parts. They are as follows:

Thumb – 65 weeks

First finger – 40 weeks

Second finger – 35 weeks

Third finger – 25 weeks

Fourth finger – 20 weeks

Big toe – 35 weeks

Other toe – 10 weeks

Hand – 185 weeks

Arm – 220 weeks

Foot – 140 weeks

Leg – 195 weeks

Eye – 140 weeks

Shoulder – 300 weeks

Hip – 280 weeks

Can I go to any doctor when I get injured at work?

If you need emergency care, then you should always go to the nearest hospital. That care should be covered by workers’ compensation. But when it comes to regular doctor’s visits, your employer’s insurance company will choose the physician you will see.

When that doctor decides that you need medical care, then your employer’s insurance company is required to provide that care. However, it’s common for insurance companies to send you to a different doctor for a second opinion after the first authorized physician releases you. It is often possible as well for your attorney to send you for an independent medical evaluation or functional capacity evaluation.

If a doctor says you need medical care, you will continue receiving that care until the physician believes you have recovered as much as you can. Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, the doctor will determine whether you have a permanent disability as a result of the injury. 

What if I lose my life due to an on-the-job injury?

It is an unfortunate reality that some employees die due to their workplace injuries. In those cases, the family’s dependents can file a claim. The family is generally entitled to 500 weeks of the worker’s weekly compensation benefits, as well as some or all of the funeral expenses. 

Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates today

McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates is experienced in representing injured employees in workers’ compensation claims. We have seen every type of workplace injury over the past four decades, from broken bones to back problems, repetitive injuries, and work-related illnesses. We know the physical, emotional, and financial pain caused by workplace injuries, and we’re here to help. 

Our personal injury attorneys know the ins and outs of South Carolina workers’ compensation law and can guide you through the entire process. We will negotiate with stubborn insurance companies that may wish to downplay your injury or offer you a lowball sum. 

We love what we do, and we’re extremely proud of our strong track record of representing injured workers in South Carolina. McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates believes that every injured worker deserves to receive compensation for their workplace injuries, and we promise to do everything we can to make that happen.

We have seven offices across the Midlands of South Carolina, and we would love to provide you with a free case evaluation. There is absolutely no obligation to hire us after the consultation. 

Give McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates a call today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®