Workers’ compensation laws developed in the United States during the 20th century as a way of handling occupational disabilities. Prior to this, the established belief was that the employer was not responsible for any employees’ injuries or deaths that were a result of an employer’s negligent act. This was a slow and cumbersome process which was in desperate need of an overhaul. By 1911, the first workers’ compensation law was enacted.
Who is Covered?
In South Carolina, almost all employers and employees are presumed to be covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Exceptions to this include:
● Agricultural employees
● South Carolina federal employees
● Railroad and railway express companies and their employees
● Businesses who have less than four employees
● Some casual employees and real estate salespeople
● Elected corporate officers
● Employers with total annual payroll at less than $3,000
If an employer is covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, they are required to keep sufficient insurance that will cover compensation payments, or they must show proof they can directly pay any claims presented by an injured employee.
If you are wondering what type of compensation you may be entitled to receive, you’ll find that workers’ compensation pays for any required medical treatment and procedures, lost wages during the disability period, and money for permanent disfigurement or disability. Employees who cannot work for more than seven days due to an on-the-job injury can be compensated for 66 ⅔ percent of their weekly salary. The amount is limited to 100 percent of South Carolina’s average weekly wage, which is established yearly by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. The first seven days are not compensated unless the employee is out for more than 14 days.
For claims involving a death or total disability, the law limits payment to 500 weeks of compensation, which is calculated using the employee’s average weekly salary. Like temporary disability, this can’t exceed 100 percent of South Carolina’s average weekly wage. Determining permanent disability can be subjective in some cases. Partial disability and/or disfigurement are usually calculated based on the extent of the injury and how many weeks of compensation they are entitled to.
Employees can file for a hearing in front of a workers’ compensation commissioner in the event the employer fails to report the accident or denies it was received during the course and scope of work. Employees may also file for a hearing if they feel their employer didn’t pay all available benefits.
There will also be situations where the injured employee and their employer do not reach an agreement. This can apply when an employer has not made payment within 14 days of notice or knowledge of the incident, or if there is a disagreement over weekly payments.
Retaining an Attorney for Workers’ Compensation Claims
While you can’t get compensation for pain and suffering like you can with a personal injury claim, it’s still important to protect your rights and interests surrounding an on-the-job injury. Retaining a South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure you are not misled by an insurance representative. Contact the Elrod Pope Law Firm at 803-599-3030 to schedule a 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.