Elrod Pope Law Firm is committed to helping you understand your rights and responsibilities when you’ve been injured on the job in South Carolina. We have many clients who have struggled to navigate the complicated system of workers’ compensation when they were unable to return to work or were denied for workers’ compensation benefits. While many believe that workers’ compensation is there to cover them in just such a situation, the reality is that it can be much more difficult than you might imagine to get the benefits that you are entitled to.
Because it can be confusing and our clients tend to have plenty of questions when it comes to seeking workers’ compensation benefits, we are going to address some of the most common ones that we hear all the time. Read on to learn more about the workers’ compensation system in South Carolina, then contact Elrod Pope Law Firm for a free consultation.
How Are You Going to Pay Your Bills When You Can’t Work Due to a Workplace Injury?
If your employer is legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and an authorized medical professional has declared that you cannot work due to a work related injury, then you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you meet the given requirements, then these benefits should include temporary total disability benefits, which include weekly compensation payments. You can then use these weekly payments to keep up with your regular monthly and weekly bills and expenses.
How Long Must You Wait for Weekly Disability Benefits?
In South Carolina, workers who have been injured on the job and unable to return to work for more than seven days will receive weekly compensation benefits for the following seven days. If you are unable to work for more than 14 days, then you will also be able to receive compensation for the first seven days that you missed.
To illustrate: If you are out of work for 13 days, then you will be compensated for six of those days, not the first seven. However, if you are out of work for 14 days, then you can receive compensation for each missed day, including the first seven.
Who Will Decide Whether or Not You Can Return to Work?
When you’ve been injured on the job at workplace that carries workers’ compensation insurance, the insurance provider will refer you to an authorized physician. You have to be examined by this physician, and this is who can decide whether or not you can return to work, whether you require special restrictions, and whether you should seek further treatment with a specialist. If you want a second opinion, you must request permission to see another doctor from the workers’ compensation insurance provider. If you have restrictions and your employer cannot accommodate those restrictions, then you will not have to return to work. If your employer can accommodate your restrictions with light duty work, then you are required to accept that work or forfeit your right to benefits.
How Much Will You Receive in Weekly Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Your weekly workers’ compensation benefits, if you are unable to return to work, will be calculated based on your average weekly wages during the last four quarters. The calculation will be based off of 2/3 of your former gross weekly income average (compensation rate). As an example, if your average gross weekly wages from the past four quarters before your injury was $600 per week, then your compensation rate would be $400 per week.
What If You Return to Work with Restrictions or Light Duty With Less Pay?
In many cases, an injured worker will be released by their physician to work with restrictions, light duty work, or part time work. In any case, if you are released to work in any capacity that causes you to earn less money, you can still receive weekly workers’ compensation benefits, known as temporary partial disability payments. The amount of your weekly benefits will be calculated at 2/3 of the difference between your former average weekly wages and your current average weekly wages. To illustrate, if you used to average $600 per week, but you now average $300 per week on light duty or part time work responsibilities, then your temporary partial disability payments will be $200 per week. Specifically, this is calculated as $600 (former) minus $300 (current) equals $300 (the difference); and 2/3 of the difference ($300) is $200 per week in temporary partial disability payments. Thus, your actual pay and your workers’ compensation benefits, in this case, would come to a total of $500 per week.
What If Your Question Isn’t Answered Here?
If you did not find the answer to your question here, the skilled Rock Hill work injury attorneys at Elrod Pope Law Firm will be happy to clarify any concerns or confusion that you may have related to your workers’ compensation benefits. Call us for a free consultation of your workers’ compensation case, and we will be happy provide the benefit of our legal expertise to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
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.