People who are hurt or become ill on the job in South Carolina often face a number of challenges, including paying for medical treatment and supporting themselves and their families while they are unable to work.
South Carolina law requires that most employers in S.C. have workers’ compensation insurance to pay for medical care, a portion of lost wages and other benefits for full-time and part-time employees injured on the job. The South Carolina Code of Laws states generally that businesses with four or more workers in South Carolina must obtain workers’ compensation insurance to protect employees.
If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed on the job in South Carolina, it is important to understand your legal rights and the workers’ comp benefits available to you. If your employer or the workers’ comp administrator disputes your right to benefits, you do not have to try to handle the issue on your own. South Carolina’s workers’ compensation system has complicated rules and appeal procedures. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney at Joye Law Firm may be able to help you pursue the benefits afforded to injured employees. Joye Law Firm has proudly represented injured workers in South Carolina for more than 50 years. For help pursuing the benefits you deserve, call us at (888) 324-3100 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.
What Are South Carolina Workers Comp Benefits?
After an injury on the job, you are entitled to coverage of all necessary medical treatment. Workers’ compensation covers the costs of surgery, hospitalization, medical supplies, prosthetic devices, and prescriptions. You are required to receive medical treatment from a doctor selected by the employer or the insurance administrator.
Workers who sustain severe injuries on the job may have to miss weeks or months of work or be unable to return to work. An injured worker may qualify for temporary compensation to replace lost wages and permanent disability benefits if he or she sustained permanent injury. The wage replacement benefit is calculated at two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage for the four quarters prior to a person’s injury and is capped at a maximum benefit. If a person was working two or more jobs at the time of an accident, those multiple sets of wages can be included as part of the average weekly wage and compensation rate.
There is a seven-day waiting period before workers’ compensation benefits can be paid, but an individual will be compensated for the original seven days if he or she is out of work for more than 14 days. The payments will be sent directly to the injured worker. When a doctor clears a patient to return to work, worker’s compensation will be stopped. The individual will have to request a hearing if they disagree and cannot perform the work assigned to them.
If a worker’s injuries cause a permanent disability, the worker may qualify for permanent disability benefits, which can last up to 500 weeks.
If a Worker Passes Away, What Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits Are Available?
When a worker sustains fatal injuries in an accident on the job, the deceased worker’s spouse, children, and other dependents can be eligible to recover death benefits or dependency benefits. South Carolina Code § 42-9-110 establishes that a surviving spouse or a child shall be presumed to be wholly dependent for support on the deceased employee.
Death benefits are two-thirds of a deceased worker’s average weekly wage, and they may be paid for up to 500 weeks. Workers’ compensation in South Carolina can also pay up to $12,000 for funeral and burial benefits.
South Carolina Code § 42-9-290 states that a child 19 years of age or older enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited educational institution and any dependent child who is mentally or physically incapable of self-support (regardless of age) may be entitled to death benefits.
Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Taxable?
Workers’ compensation settlements and benefits are generally not taxed in South Carolina. When you return to work for light duty, payments you receive will be taxable as wages.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) states that the amounts you or your survivors receive as workers’ compensation are fully exempt from tax. If part of your workers’ compensation payments reduces your social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits, that part of the benefits could be taxable.
If a disability pension is paid under a statute that provides benefits only to employees with service-connected disabilities, part of it could be workers’ compensation exempt from taxation, but the rest of the pension may be taxable as pension income. When a person dies, the part of the survivors’ benefit that is a continuation of the workers’ compensation is exempt from tax.
Workers’ compensation reimbursement for medical care is generally not taxable. Advance reimbursements or loans for future medical expenses from employers are included as income, whether or not uninsured medical expenses were incurred during the year.
What to Do If Your Workers’ Comp Benefits Are Denied
A workers’ compensation claim may be denied for many reasons, but some of the most common reasons include:
- Failure to Prove Injury — Some people may simply be deemed not injured enough to qualify for benefits. Such cases often require the injured employee to supply additional medical information demonstrating the severity of their injuries.
- Missed Deadlines — Employees must report injuries to their employer within 90 days. An employer may question a claim if there is no written notification of the injury within the time allowed. People also have two years from the date of injury or diagnosis of a work-related disease to file a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina.
- Incorrect Classification — Some people are denied workers’ compensation benefits because their employers incorrectly classified them as independent contractors. Employers often do this to try to avoid paying workers’ compensation claims. You may have to prove that your job duties fit within the definition of an employee to obtain your benefits.
- Employee Behavior — While employers are primarily expected to pay workers’ compensation regardless of cause, employees will not be awarded benefits if their injuries resulted from prohibited or unsafe behavior, such as being under the influence of drugs or alcohol on the job.
- Injuries Not Work-Related — Employers often dispute workers’ compensation claims by arguing that the injuries were not work-related. The employee may need to prove that their injuries were incurred on the job, or that a workplace accident aggravated an injury the worker had previously incurred.
If your workers’ compensation application is denied, you will have an opportunity to file an appeal and request a hearing before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. An injured employee who has the initial appeal denied can ask for a review by a panel of three Commissioners. The request must be submitted within 14 days of the Commissioner’s order.
If you wish to appeal the Commission Review, you must file a lawsuit in the South Carolina Court of Appeals within 30 days of the date of the award or the date that registered mail “receipt of notice” was sent back to the Commission, whichever is longer. When such an appeal is unsuccessful, the only other appeal option is the Supreme Court of South Carolina, which does not hear every appeal and rarely hears workers’ compensation cases.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Claim Your Benefits
A knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer who handles claims and appeals may be able to help you if you are having difficulty obtaining benefits.
Our South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney will know what kinds of medical evidence are needed to support your claim and whether having you receive a second medical evaluation would be helpful.
If the employer is disputing the cause of your injury, our skilled attorneys will conduct an investigation to identify the cause of your injuries and gather evidence to support your claim. While injured employees generally cannot file personal injury lawsuits against their employers after a workplace accident, they may have a right in certain cases to bring legal action against a third party that caused the accident, such as a subcontractor working on the same construction site.
Contact a South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Lawyer
At Joye Law Firm, we are proud to have helped many workers in South Carolina obtain the benefits they needed to move forward with their lives. Our attorneys are available to review your workplace accident and discuss your workers’ compensation claim. Joye Law Firm has long been committed to giving back to the communities that we serve. Our law firm is involved in a number of civic and charitable endeavors such as the Joye Law Firm Annual Scholarship Program and the Shoot Three and Win Halftime Challenge during the annual Piggly Wiggly Roundball Classic.
Call one of our knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyers at (888) 324-3100 or set up a free consultation by reaching out to us online.