If you have been injured at work, you may be entitled to benefits under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, and you should understand what your rights are under SC’s workers’ compensation laws.
Insurance companies – even workers’ compensation insurance companies – are in business to make money, and they will deny or limit your workers’ compensation claim whenever they think they can get away with it.
Common Questions & Answers About Workers’ Compensation
Below, we will answer some general questions about workers’ compensation coverage, when you are entitled to benefits, and the claims process. You should contact a workers’ comp attorney to answer questions specific to your case, for help filing your claim, and to demand the full benefits that you are entitled to receive.
1. What is a workers’ compensation claim?
Workers’ compensation laws in SC will pay benefits – including your medical expenses and partial wage replacement benefits – if you are injured on the job.
Workers’ comp laws are a trade-off intended to protect both employers and employees.
If your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, 1) you cannot sue them for an on-the-job injury – protecting employers from lawsuits, but 2) you can receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault – even if you caused the accident, you are covered.
2. How does workers’ compensation work in SC?
If you are injured on the job, you file a workers’ compensation claim and then receive temporary benefits until your doctor clears you to return to work or until your doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement, at which point you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits.
3. What are the benefits and drawbacks of workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a kind of “safety net” for employees. You don’t have to sue your employer if you are injured on the job, you don’t have to prove negligence, and, in exchange for immunity from injury lawsuits, your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Your recovery is limited, however, to your medical costs, a percentage (2/3) of your lost wages, and any permanency or impairment you suffer.
4. How do I claim workers’ compensation?
You should immediately report your injury to your employer, who may then help you to complete the paperwork to file your claim. There is a 90-day deadline to report your injury to your employer, after which you may be barred from receiving benefits.
If your employer (or their insurance company) denies your benefits, you or your attorney may need to file your workers’ compensation claim yourself and request a hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission, using a Form 50 Notice of Claim and Request for Hearing (for on-the-job injuries) or a Form 52 Notice of Claim and Request for Hearing in Death Cases.
You should know that even if your employer reports your claim to their Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier and you begin to receive benefits, your claim is still not considered filed at the South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission. It is important to know that your claim must be filed at the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission within two year of your accident. If it is not filed within two years the Statute of Limitations will run and you will be barred from filing the claim.
5. Should I file for workers’ compensation?
If you were injured on the job and 1) required medical treatment or 2) were required to miss work for more than 7 days because of your injuries, your employer must compensate you, and you should ask for workers’ compensation benefits.
6. Can I file workers’ compensation for on-the-job stress?
“Mental health injuries” might be covered by workers’ compensation, but you should seek advice from your workers’ compensation attorney based on the circumstances of your case.
Section 42-1-160 says that workers’ compensation insurance covers mental health or stress-related injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder, heart attack, or stroke only if:
- There is an accompanying physical injury, or
- The work conditions that caused the stress were extraordinary and you can prove with medical evidence that the injury was caused by the stressful work conditions.
7. Who pays workers’ compensation benefits?
Your employer is responsible for compensating you for any on-the-job injuries through their workers’ compensation insurance policy. In most cases, the insurance company will pay your benefits (and make decisions about coverage), while your employer pays premiums to the insurance company.
8. Does workers’ compensation pay for pain and suffering?
Workers’ compensation does not pay for many of the damages that you would have received in an injury lawsuit, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering or punitive damages. You are limited to 1) your medical costs, 2) a percentage (2/3) of your lost wages, and you can recover a lump sum if your injury is permanent.
9. How long does workers’ compensation last?
If you are injured on the job, SC Code § 42-9-260 authorizes your employer to begin paying temporary benefits as soon as eight days after you are injured. In most cases, if your employer is not disputing the claim, you will continue to receive temporary workers’ compensation benefits until your doctor clears you to return to work or until you have reached maximum medical improvement, at which point you may be eligible for permanent disability benefits.
10. Are workers’ compensation benefits taxed as income in SC?
Although you will only receive 2/3 of your average weekly wage, your benefits are tax exempt – you will not pay state or federal taxes on your workers’ compensation income.
11. What does workers’ compensation cover?
Workers’ compensation covers on-the-job injuries. SC Code Section 42-1-160 defines “injury” for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage as an accidental injury that arose out of and in the course of employment.
In some cases, injuries caused by a series of events are also covered by workers’ compensation insurance, including repetitive trauma like carpal tunnel syndrome or occupational disease caused by repeated exposure to chemicals.
12. What businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance?
Although there are many exceptions, SC Code § 42-1-150 requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they are:
- The State,
- A political subdivision of the State,
- A public or quasi-public corporation, or
- A private employer with four or more employees.
Employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for casual employees, independent contractors, or agricultural employees, and other exceptions can be found in SC Code § 42-1-360.
Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in South Carolina?
Your SC workers’ compensation lawyer will help you to file your claim, determine how long your workers’ compensation benefits may last, and represent you before the workers’ compensation commission for any hearings and appeals.