What is Workers’ Comp?
If you’ve been injured on the job or developed an illness due to your working conditions, you may have some questions about workers’ compensation in South Carolina. What is workers’ comp? How does it work? What does it cover? Am I entitled to benefits?
Read on for a brief overview of the workers’ comp program in South Carolina.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-run program that guarantees financial compensation to an employee injured or made ill on the job. Workers’ comp also provides benefits to the survivors of employees who have died on the job.
There are two key points to note about workers’ comp. One, it is a no-fault system, meaning that injuries, illnesses, and death are covered whether they were the fault of the employer, the fault of the employee, or a true accident. Two, it is an exclusive remedy, meaning an injured or ill employee cannot bring a separate lawsuit against the employer. (There are a few exceptions, which you can discuss with a workers’ comp attorney.)
The workers’ comp system was developed to benefit both employee and employer. It removes the need for lawsuits and counter suits, which are often expensive, stressful, and time-consuming. Employees get the essential compensation they need to recover from their illness or injury, and employers don’t have to spend resources fighting lawsuits.
Every state has a workers’ comp program. In South Carolina, the program is administered by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) (here).
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
In South Carolina, most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Most do this by purchasing workers’ compensation insurance, while some choose to self-insure. Either way, when an employee has been injured or become ill on the job, they start the claims process and then receive the benefits they are entitled to. (See below for more details on the claims process).
An important thing to know about how workers’ comp works is that it’s highly regulated, with compensation rates strictly determined by state law. For instance, lost wages are paid at a rate of 66.6% of the worker’s average weekly wages, up to a maximum of $866.67 per week for the year 2020. (This amount changes yearly.) Another example is the partial disability of the loss of an index finger, which is compensated at a rate of 66.6% of the worker’s average weekly wage for a duration of 40 weeks.
Being so regulated, the system guarantees that workers will receive fair compensation for their injury or illness. It also means workers should not expect a large financial windfall after an accident at work.
Who is Covered Under Workers’ Comp in South Carolina?
The majority of companies in South Carolina are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance or to self-insure, with some exceptions. This means that the majority of salaried and hourly wage workers in the state are covered.
However, volunteers and workers classified as independent contractors may not be covered. If you’re not sure whether you’re covered, ask your employer or speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer.
What is Covered Under Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?
Workers’ compensation broadly covers three main areas: injury, illness, and death. Because it’s a no-fault system, workers are eligible for benefits regardless of fault.
· Injuries that occur at the workplace or in the course of the job are covered, such as sprains and strains, falls, and machinery accidents.
· Illnesses that have developed as a direct result of the working environment are covered, such as asbestosis or other occupational diseases.
· Death that occurs on the job is covered, meaning that the workers’ survivors/dependents are entitled to benefits.
Again, there are exceptions. Talk with a workers’ comp attorney if you have questions about what is covered in South Carolina.
What are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers covered under workers’ comp may be entitled to the following:
- · Medical care, medical supplies, and prescription drugs
- · Travel expenses for medical care
- · Compensation for lost wages at a fixed rate
- · Compensation for partial or total disability
- · Death benefits for survivors whose loved one has died on the job
Workers’ compensation does not include pain and suffering, punitive damages, or similar non-economic damages.
What is the Workers’ Compensation Claims Process?
The first step – after receiving urgent medical attention, if needed – is for the worker to report their injury or illness to their supervisor or to HR. This usually begins the claim on the employee’s behalf. Once the claim is processed, the employee will usually receive the initial benefits they are entitled to, depending on the nature of their illness or injury.
In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for a workers’ compensation claim is two years from the date of injury. However, it’s important to note that you have just 90 days to report your injury to your employer. Failing to report to your supervisor or HR in time could mean losing out on benefits.
Sometimes this process doesn’t go perfectly. What if your employer didn’t file a workers’ comp claim on your behalf? What if your claim was rejected? What if you’re not receiving the benefits you believe you deserve? In these situations, it’s a good idea to work with a workers’ comp attorney who can ensure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to under the law.
How Do You Collect Workers’ Compensation?
If you are entitled to compensation, how do you collect workers’ comp benefits? Benefits are paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, including lost wages and medical expenses.
Note that you must go to the doctor chosen by the employer or insurance company. If you choose to go to your own doctor, you may not be covered and will likely have to pay those expenses yourself.
Do I Need to Speak with An Attorney About My Workers’ Comp Case?
It’s always smart to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney, even if you think your claim is straightforward. There could be exceptions and challenges you’re not aware of that an attorney can help you with.
You should plan to speak with an attorney if your claim was denied, if you don’t agree with the Commission’s findings, if you aren’t receiving the benefits you believe you’re entitled to, or if you have questions about an injury/illness or a claim.
Talk to the Workers’ Compensation Attorneys of The Carolina Law Group Today
If you’ve been wondering “What is workers’ comp?” hopefully this overview has helped you understand some of the basics. Still, there are a number of nuances to the system that could impact benefits you receive. To talk about your claim, give us a call.
You have nothing to lose by speaking with one of the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at The Carolina Law Group. The initial consultation is always free. Call one of the numbers below or fill out this contact form to schedule yours.
The Carolina Law Group has three offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg. Call today.
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