Your status as a temporary worker in North Charleston does not necessarily bar you from being eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you have been injured on the job.
You may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you suffer an injury while working in a temporary position for the holiday season, doing a job you got through a temp employment agency, and miss more than seven days of work.
Do not let anyone tell you that you are not entitled to workers’ comp benefits. If you have been injured and have a disputed workers’ comp claim, you should speak to an experienced S.C. workers’ compensation lawyer to evaluate your options.
A workers’ compensation lawyer at Joye Law Firm in North Charleston can review your work injury claim and discuss the steps available to you. Our workers’ comp lawyers have been assisting injured workers throughout South Carolina for more than 50 years. Contact us for a free case review.
How Do Temp and Seasonal Employees Qualify for Workers’ Comp?
This S.C. Workers’ Compensation Commission statement about coverage requirements points out that the status of seasonal employees is regularly questioned. Two questions must be answered in the affirmative to confirm eligibility:
- Does the employer regularly employ four workers?
- Is the individual an employee?
“The courts have defined ‘regularly employed’ as meaning employment of the same number of people with some constancy throughout a relevant time period,” the statement says. The relevant time period would be when the worker whose claim is being questioned was employed, such as over the course of the holiday season. The number of employees is easily answered in most cases by taking a look at the employer’s payroll.
Many temporary workers are actually employed by agencies that provide temporary workers to other companies. Even if you were injured while working at a job site, the temp agency that employs you may be the provider of your workers’ compensation coverage.
The Workers’ Compensation Commission states that case law defines the fundamental test of the employer-employee relationship as the right of the employer to control details of an employee’s work.
Such control or supervision is normally exercised over the activities of temporary and seasonal employees. Temps are usually hired to assist with an increased workload and work side-by-side with permanent employees under a supervisor.
Temporary Workers, ‘Casual’ Employees and S.C. Workers’ Comp
Temporary and seasonal employees are often confused with “casual” employees. Under South Carolina workers’ comp statutes, employers may decline to offer workers’ compensation protection to workers whose employment is casual.
In the presiding case defining casual employment [Smith v. Coastal Tire and Auto Service 263 S.C. 77, 81, 207 S.E.2d 810, 812 (1974)], a tire shop owner put his teenage son on the payroll during summer break and let him show up and do odd jobs when he felt like it. When the boy was injured, the company and the workers’ comp insurer argued that he was a casual employee that the insurer was not obligated to cover.
The court agreed, saying, “Where employment cannot be characterized as permanent or periodically regular but occurs by chance, or with the intention and understanding on the part of both employer and employee that it shall not be continuous, it is casual.”
If you have been instructed to report for work on specific days of the week and hours of the day, we would argue that your position is “periodically regular” and more than casual.
A third test would be whether the temporary worker falls into another category of workers exempted from workers’ compensation requirements. South Carolina law says employers do not have to provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover:
- Farmworkers and individuals who sell agricultural products for a producer
- State and county fair association employees
- Railroad and federal employees
- Licensed real estate salespersons who work for licensed real estate brokers on a straight commission basis or as independent contractors
- Commercial truck drivers who own or lease their trucks and work as independent contractors.
Employers that had a total annual payroll during the previous calendar year of less than $3,000 are exempt from workers’ comp requirements, regardless of the number of people they employ.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage in South Carolina
Any South Carolina business that regularly has four or more employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for all of its eligible employees. This includes full-time and part-time employees, and coverage is automatically in effect from the employee’s first day on the job.
An employee who is injured by an accident in the course of performing the job and is temporarily or permanently disabled may qualify for benefits, according to South Carolina Workers’ Compensation statutes. In general, this means injuries that occur while the employee is performing assigned job duties and that keep the injured employee from returning to work for a week or more.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. Even if the employee caused the workplace accident, he or she is entitled to receive benefits for a qualifying injury. In return, injured workers waive most of their rights to sue their employer and seek redress through the court system.
The four major workers’ comp benefits are:
- Medical expenses. South Carolina workers’ compensation pays for all of the injured worker’s necessary medical treatment related to a qualifying on-the-job injury. This includes surgery, hospitalization, medical supplies, prosthetic devices, and prescriptions. It may also pay for physical, occupational, and vocational rehabilitation.
- Temporary disability payments. Once an injured worker has missed seven days of work as a result of their condition, workers’ comp provides income replacement benefits at the rate of 66 2/3 percent of their average weekly wage based on the four quarters prior to their injury. For a temporary worker, the average weekly wage should be based on wages paid to an employee in a similar or like position or as promised to the injured employee.
- Long-term disability payments. If a temporary worker suffers total permanent disability in a workplace accident, wage replacement benefits can last for up to 500 weeks. If the employee has suffered a physical brain injury that is disabling or paralysis, they may be entitled to lifetime benefits.
- Death benefit. If an employee dies in a workplace accident, dependent immediate family members may claim a death benefit. Death benefits are 66 2/3 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks. South Carolina workers’ compensation coverage also pays up to $12,000 for funeral and burial expenses.
Contact Our S.C. Workers’ Cop Attorneys
Workers’ compensation law is complex. Most full and part-time employees in South Carolina are covered by workers’ compensation insurance if they are injured on the job. If you are a temporary worker and have questions about whether you are eligible for workers’ comp after a workplace accident, speak to a North Charleston workers’ compensation attorney at Joye Law Firm.