Image of a person with a broken arm

Any injured employee can receive workers’ compensation for benefit checks to cover medical expenses, lost wages partially, and other benefits without having to prove their employer’s negligence was at fault for their injury. Workers’ compensation is set up to allow injured workers to receive benefits as long as they need them until they return to work up to 500 weeks of benefits.

If you have been injured on the job, find out how long your workers’ compensation payments will continue.

What is the Time Frame for Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?

An injured worker may receive workers’ compensation for up to 500 weeks, with payments lasting a lifetime in permanent and total disability cases involving any degree of paralysis or a serious and permanent brain injury.   Workers’ compensation may also end when a doctor permits you to return to work, with or without restrictions, or when you reach maximum medical improvement.  However, if more than five months have passed from the date of the accident before your doctor does this, the insurance company has to follow certain procedures to try to end your weekly benefits.

How long you receive benefits depends on your work capacity, the severity of your injury, and your medical treatment needs.

When can I start receiving workers’ compensation?

You may be entitled to temporary partial compensation beginning on the 8th calendar day of being unable to work.

If you are unable to work for more than 14 days, you can retroactively receive compensation beginning from the first day of being unable to work.

What if I’m able to return to work, but with restrictions?

Your physician may clear you to return to work but advise you not to perform specific work tasks while recovering from your injury. In these circumstances, you may continue to receive temporary disability compensation if your employer can’t accommodate your restrictions. If you return to work but you are earning less than what you were before your injury, you may be entitled to temporary, partial compensation.  The amount of partial compensation you receive will be based on 2/3rds of the difference between your post-injury earnings and your pre-injury wages.

If your employer offers light-duty work, you must accept it or potentially lose your workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe you won’t be able to perform your assigned light-duty tasks, you may request a hearing.

Once your doctor confirms you can resume your full-time job with no restrictions, you will no longer receive compensation checks, although these checks cannot be unilaterally terminated more than five months after the date of the accident.

How Long Will I Receive Temporary Benefits if I Have to Go Back to Work?

When a doctor clears you to return to work, your employer can ask you to sign a Form 17 after working for 15 days. This form serves as a receipt of compensation indicating that you accepted workers’ compensation payments and understand that the checks will stop. If you have a lawyer, you should not sign any form without having your lawyer review it first.

What if I have a permanent and total disability?

If you have a permanent impairment affecting more than one body part and there is no reasonably, stable job market for you or your disability is more than 50% of your back, you may be considered permanently disabled. You could also be entitled to a scheduled member, permanent disability award if your doctor gives you a physical impairment rating when you reach the maximum medical improvement, which is the medical term for when you are as recovered as you will ever get.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission determines the amount you receive in your award. They base their decision on medical evidence, which may be expert testimony or the opinion of a licensed health care provider. You must produce documents to support the professional opinion, including medical records and receipts for treatments relating to the injury.

Paralysis cases like paraplegia and quadriplegia incur benefits for the rest of your life. Physical brain damage (deemed to be ‘serious’ in nature) also qualifies for this benefit.

If you are asserting that you are permanently disabled from working due to your injuries, it is crucial that you hire an experienced workers’ compensation law firm for a host of reasons.  This includes making sure that any settlement agreement does not wipe out tens of thousands of dollars of potential Social Security disability benefits in the future.  This is especially important if you have an injury which could entitle you to lifetime disability benefits.

What Can An Injured Worker Do If Their Benefits Were Denied?

If your employer has denied you further benefits, fill out Form 50 (workplace injury request for a hearing) and submit it to the Commission’s judicial department.

The commissioner for workers’ compensation in South Carolina listens to testimony and receives evidence to decide what benefits you should receive. You can have a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer review your claim and represent you at a formal hearing.

If you have sustained a significant injury, it is never a good idea to go a workers’ compensation hearing without the benefit of legal representation.  Rest assured that your employer and its insurance company will have a lawyer representing them.

We Can Help You with Your Workers’ Comp Claim in South Carolina

The lawyers at Joye Law Firm can guide you through the legal process of a hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Our lawyers have hundreds of years of combined experience handling workers’ compensation cases.  Two of our lawyers have served as the President of the South Carolina Injured Workers Advocates organization and several others have served on the board of this organization.  Getting in contact with us as soon as possible helps ensure you receive compensation for your injury claim and are treated fairly by the commission. Contact us today to arrange a free case evaluation.

About the Author

Ken Harrell joined Joye Law Firm in 1994, and has been the managing partner since 2006. With 30 years of experience, he protects the rights of injured South Carolinians, including cases involving workers’ compensation, car accidents, and defective products. Ken also leads the firm’s referral practice, helping to ensure that our clients receive the best possible representation. He is a past president of South Carolina Injured Workers’ Advocates, and has served as the co-chairman of this organization’s legislative affairs committee for 12 years.

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