The Elrod Pope Law Firm is located in South Carolina, though we have workers’ compensation attorneys who are licensed to represent you in your workers’ comp claim in North Carolina and South Carolina. In our decades of experience in both states, we’ve become intimately familiar with all of the nuances of the legal system as it relates to workers’ compensation claims and the differences and similarities between the states. Today, we’ll discuss some of these differences and similarities and how they may relate to your claim. For more information call the Elrod Pope Law Firm for a free consultation.
How Wage Benefits Are Determined in North and South Carolina
North and South Carolina are similar in how wage benefits are determined. In fact, they are just like the majority of states in the US, with the wage benefits being calculated at 2/3 of your average weekly wage, or AWW. They are provided after you’ve been out of work for more than seven days, and the first seven days are compensated when you’ve been out of work for more than 14 days in South Carolina and 21 days in North Carolina. The difference between the states arises when you work more than one job. In South Carolina, if you have two jobs and are out of work at both of them for seven days, you can receive wage benefits at 2/3 of your former average weekly wage at both jobs. In North Carolina, your wage benefits will only be based on your average weekly wage at the job where you were injured.
Second Medical Opinions in North and South Carolina
In both states, injured workers can only seek medical treatment for their work related injuries from a company approved or insurance approved physician. Unfortunately, some of these approved physicians are more concerned about the employer or insurance company’s best interests than the patient’s best interests. In South Carolina, if the patient does not feel that they are receiving the appropriate treatment or if they disagree with the physician’s diagnosis or restrictions, then they can request permission from the workers’ comp insurance company to seek a second opinion. In North Carolina, injured workers can seek a second opinion for their impairment rating, but not for additional treatment.
The Weight of Impairment Ratings in North and South Carolina
An impairment rating refers to how much an injury impairs the patient in terms of what types of work they can do, if they can work at all. This rating is issued by the physician when the patient is released from medical care. In North Carolina, many people feel that the system is biased. The impairment rating is very important and not easily challenged. North Carolina also determines disability using “evidence of consideration of wage earning capacity” in addition to impairment. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission also takes into account the age of the patient as well as the education, work experience, other skills, and future medical needs.
Commission Order and Mediation in North and South Carolina
In North Carolina, mediation is a requirement to resolve workers’ compensation cases, and there is no means to ensure that claimants can receive future payments unless they can reach such an agreement in mediation. In South Carolina, however, mediation is used to settle claims, but is not the only resource. If mediation is not successful in SC, then the claimant can pursue their case with a Commissioner. Even when the case does not go this far, the fact that it can gives the claimant an advantage in mediation.
Requirements for Workers’ Compensation Insurance in North and South Carolina
In North Carolina, employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance for their workers if they have at least three employees. In South Carolina, this is required for employers with at least four employees. If an employer does not carry the required workers’ compensation insurance, as is common in certain high risk occupations, where the associated insurance premiums are every expensive, then injured workers in North Carolina may not be able to recover any compensation or benefits at all. In South Carolina, injured workers in these circumstances have the option to turn to the Uninsured Employers Fund. This fund will seek reimbursement for the provided benefits from the uninsured employer.
Legal Advice Regarding Workers’ Compensation in North and South Carolina
Whether you were injured on the job in North Carolina or South Carolina, you may find yourself in need of legal advice and representation. Regardless of which state you were injured in, the determined workers’ compensation attorneys in Rock Hill at the Elrod Pope Law Firm are here for you. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.