The early 1900s reshaped many aspects of American life and industry. Marked by seismic events, like the Wright brothers’ first flight and Henry Ford’s Model T production, the period’s great economic advances also helped spark major advances for workers’ rights.

Prior to the 20th century, American workers had very little recourse for the injuries they suffered while on the job. In most of the country, an injured worker’s only hope for compensation was an expensive and difficult court battle to prove their employer’s negligence.  Needless to say, few workers had the means to even try, and far fewer ever succeeded.

Calls for better worker protections began to grow as newspapers shocked the nation with stories of workers horrifically maimed and killed, which often left their hopeless families behind to struggle. The changing societal attitudes set the stage for our modern workers’ compensation system.

While far from perfect and sometimes frustratingly slow, today’s workers’ compensation system provides a financial cushion if you get hurt at work. They cover medical bills and compensate for lost earnings, allowing you to focus on recovery.

Submitting your claim quickly does not guarantee that you will receive your wage replacement benefits promptly, however. Delays may still occur for a variety of reasons, including application issues. These delays might put you in a tough spot financially. Understanding the process and avoiding pitfalls can make all the difference.

Learn the timeline for getting your workers’ comp check in South Carolina and how Joye Law Firm can help if your checks are delayed.

Understanding Different Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits

Workers’ compensation provides essential support to employees who have suffered injuries or illnesses on the job. In South Carolina, you can receive the following benefits when you file a claim:

  • Medical Benefits: These cover all necessary medical care related to workplace injury or illness. This includes hospital visits, medications, and ongoing treatments to facilitate recovery.
  • Wage Replacement Benefits: These benefits compensate you for a portion of lost earnings due to your inability to work because of a work-related injury or illness. The rate is two-thirds (66%) of your average weekly wages, up to the current state maximum.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits: Offered to employees who cannot work for a limited period, these benefits replace a portion of the lost wages during recovery.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits: If an injury results in lasting disability that prevents a return to former work, these benefits provide long-term financial support based on the severity of the impairment.
  • Rehabilitation Benefits: This benefit includes vocational training or therapy to regain skills and potentially start a new career path if your injuries prevent you from returning to your former position.

Potential Waiting Periods for Workers’ Compensation

Some workers’ compensation benefits, like temporary or permanent disability payments, cannot be paid immediately. South Carolina Code § 42-9-200 prevents injured employees from receiving wage benefits for the first 7 days of their injury.

If the injury is severe enough to keep an employee out of work for more than 7 days, they can receive wage benefits from the 8th day. However, if the injury is serious enough to keep them out of work for more than 14 days, they can retroactively receive benefits for those first 7 days.

Medical care benefits are not subject to this waiting period. Section 42-15-60 requires that workers’ comp cover medical treatment for your injury, even during the first 7 days. If your employer’s insurance refuses to cover medical treatment during this time, consult with a workers’ compensation attorney because you are legally eligible for compensation.

When Will I Receive My Workers’ Comp Checks?

Most employees can expect to receive weekly workers’ comp checks within 2-3 weeks of filing their claim. Your first check will cover the wages you lost in the second week after your injury, since you usually cannot receive compensation for the first 7 days.

Because workers’ compensation is paid by your employer’s insurance, not your employer themselves, the insurance company must review the claim before beginning payments. This review process can take several weeks, further delaying your check.

What Can Delay Workers’ Comp Checks?

If there are problems with your workers’ comp claim, receiving your workers’ comp checks can take much longer. Here are some of the most common reasons workers’ comp checks are delayed:

  • Errors or Omissions in Your Claim: Inaccuracies or omissions in your claim can delay or complicate the process. These may take days or weeks to discover and require you to submit a new claim form, extending your wait time for benefits. Common errors include:
    • Not specifying the exact date and time of the injury
    • Omitting details about how the injury occurred
    • Failing to list all body parts affected by the injury
    • Not including a complete history of treatments received
    • Leaving out contact information for witnesses or medical providers
    • Forgetting to update the claim with new medical conditions or complications related to the injury
    • Submitting forms without signatures or required authorizations
  • Your Employer Refuses to File a Claim: Both you and your employer must file a workers’ comp claim for you to receive payment. Once your employer knows about the accident, they are legally required to report it within 10 business days.
    You won’t start receiving checks until your employer submits their part of the claim. If your employer fails to file within 10 business days, the insurance company will reject your claim.
  • Your Employer Disputes Your Claim: In some circumstances, your employer has the right to dispute your workers’ comp claim. For example, if they believe your injury did not happen while performing work duties or that it is not serious enough to prevent you from working. Once your employer files a dispute, the insurance company must investigate, which will delay your checks.
  • Insurance Suspects Your Claim is Not Valid: If the insurance company questions the legitimacy of your claim, they may hold off on issuing your checks during their investigation. Reasons for their skepticism might include:
    • Your injury was caused by an ineligible accident, such as roughhousing.
    • You were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury.
    • Your injury is a pre-existing condition. 

Denials and Disputes: What to Do When Your Checks Are Delayed

Although it’s unrealistic to anticipate an immediate payment, a delay extending beyond a few weeks often indicates a snag in the claims process. Our workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to advocate for you. Your attorney can work on your behalf to discover the cause of the delay, and will help you resolve it.

Here’s what you can expect when you work with our experienced team:

  • Filing a Notice of Appeal: This must be done within 14 days of receiving the Commission’s decision. We can help ensure your appeal is filed correctly and within the required timeframe.
  • Gathering More Evidence: Your attorney can help you collect additional medical records, expert testimony, or evidence of workplace conditions to support your claim and win an appeal.
  • Preparing for the Hearing: Your attorney will prepare legal arguments and gather witness testimonies. This preparation can help you present a solid case to the Commission.
  • Representation at the Hearing: Having an attorney represent you at the appeals hearing can impact the outcome. We can argue on your behalf, focusing on legal and procedural aspects that could influence the decision regarding your benefits.
  • Pursuing Further Appeals: If necessary, we can take your case to the South Carolina Court of Appeals or even the Supreme Court. We handle all aspects of the legal process, ensuring adherence to strict procedural rules and deadlines.
  • Advice and Support: Throughout the appeals process, we can provide guidance, offer moral support, and keep you informed of your case’s progress, making the process less stressful.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Joye Law Firm

Dealing with workers’ compensation insurance can be overwhelming for injured employees who are short on time and energy. Joye Law Firm can support you in securing the compensation you’re entitled to.

Our team of lawyers has a strong track record of assisting injured workers in obtaining the delayed workers’ compensation checks and benefits they deserve.

Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Originally published January 16, 2023. Updated April 1, 2024.

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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