Workers' Compensation Benefits in South Carolina
A variety of workers’ compensation benefits are available if you’ve been injured on the job in South Carolina. These benefits provide money to pay for medical expenses, replace lost wages, and compensate you for temporary and permanent disabilities stemming from the accident.
There are different situations in which different types of benefits apply, and there are some limits on benefits. To learn what you may be eligible for, contact Stewart Law Offices to speak with a knowledgeable South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer now.
Types of S.C. Workers’ Comp Benefits
Workers’ compensation is available to most South Carolina employees who suffer job-related injuries or are diagnosed with occupational illnesses. Benefits include:
- Medical costs: You can recover compensation for all medical expenses that are considered reasonable and necessary to treat your workplace injury. Typically, you may have the costs of surgery, hospital stays, medical supplies and devices, and prescription medication covered. In South Carolina, you must go to the doctor of your employer’s choice in order to receive medical benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
- Mileage reimbursement: You can be paid for the money you spend traveling to and from the doctor as a result of your injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation: In some cases, an injury or illness leaves you unable to come back to the same type of job. If this happens to you, you may be eligible to receive help in finding a new type of work. This is called vocational rehabilitation. Professionals will help you understand what caused your condition, what job skills you have, and how to use technology to assist you. They’ll also help you gain new job skills for a different job from what you had previously. The focus during vocational rehab is finding a job that will work for you given your new limitations. All types of assistive devices are evaluated during vocational rehab if necessary. These can include physical aids such as wheelchairs or technological aids such as specially designed software. Often an injured worker may obtain a job with the same employer, but sometimes a job search is necessary.
- Death benefits: If a workplace accident causes death, then eligible dependents may be entitled to receive death benefits. Dependents can receive weekly compensation based upon the deceased employee’s average weekly wage. The general rule is that two-thirds of the deceased employee’s average pay may be paid to eligible dependents. Death benefits also include an allowance for burial expenses up to $12,000.
The types of compensation you may be able to pursue will depend on the details of your particular accident and injury. A knowledgeable workers’ comp lawyer can help you pursue maximum benefits for you and your family.
Disability Benefits in SC Workers’ Comp
In South Carolina, disability benefits provide assistance to employees while they are out of work.
Temporary Disability Benefits
Temporary disability benefits are made available for workers who are unable to work for a relatively short period of time. If you miss 14 days of work or fewer, you will not be paid benefits for the first seven days. However, if you are out of work for more than 14 days, you will be paid for the initial seven days as well as the remainder of time off up until the limit or whenever you go back to work.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are available if you are unable to work at all. These benefits are calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly pay. Average weekly pay is calculated by using the total wages from the four quarters leading up to the quarter when the injury occurred. There is a maximum amount under the law for these benefits, even if two-thirds of your pay is higher than this cap.
You may be entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits if you are able to work but are earning less than normal because of your injury. Temporary partial disability benefits are calculated as two-thirds of the difference between your pay prior to the injury and after the injury.
You may receive temporary benefits until you have reached maximum medical improvement or you are able to go back to your regular job. At most, temporary total disability benefits are available for 500 weeks following an injury, and partial disability benefits are available for 340 weeks after an injury.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Getting workers’ comp benefits for permanent disabilities is more complicated. There are stringent criteria that you must meet under the law.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are for workers who suffer catastrophic injuries. Although there are other ways to meet the requirements, typically you must have lost both of your hands, feet, arms, or legs, become blind in both eyes, or suffered a combination of two of these types of losses.
For permanent total disability, the rates are the same as temporary rates, but you can receive benefits for longer, usually up to 500 weeks. Certain injuries, such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, and traumatic brain injury, may entitle you to receive benefits for the rest of your life.
Permanent partial disability benefits (PPD) are possible if you have a permanent impairment that falls short of total disability. In these cases, you may be eligible to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a certain period of time. Permanent partial disability payments will be paid depending on how they are classified:
- Scheduled awards: A scheduled award is a type of workers’ compensation payment you will receive if you are permanently partially disabled and the injury you have suffered is listed in the statute governing this area. This law specifies a period of time that you can receive benefits for a variety of injuries. For example, if you lose one hand through an injury at work, you are entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wages for 185 weeks.
- Unscheduled awards: An unscheduled award is one that is not listed in the statute. Here, you are entitled to benefits based on a disability rating compared to the body as a whole. Ratios are used for partial loss or use of a body part and determine the amount you are paid. Payments may be made up to 500 weeks.
- Disfigurement: This is treated differently from other injuries and must be considered where permanent disfigurement occurs to the face, head, neck, or other area of the body that is typically exposed. These awards are based on equitable considerations and cannot be made for more than 50 weeks.
This area of the law can be especially confusing, so do not hesitate to reach out to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer at Stewart Law Offices if you think your injury falls under this category.
How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Pay in South Carolina?
Workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina have caps on the amounts that can be paid to replace your income. These caps are determined by the average weekly wage in South Carolina, which is calculated by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. The compensation rate changes annually. You can check for the current rate here.
Limitations on Workers’ Comp in South Carolina
Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to compensate you for a period of time following an injury, but they may not provide enough benefits to address all the financial challenges you face as a result of your injury. You are unable to recover any non-economic damages like pain and suffering or mental anguish in a workers’ comp claim. The limits on benefits are tied to just medical expenses and a percentage of your income.
In certain circumstances, it may make sense to file a personal injury lawsuit after a work injury. Workers’ compensation laws generally prevent you from suing your employer. But if a third party is responsible for your injury, such as a subcontractor on a job site or a manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment, you may be able to collect compensation from the at-fault party. Unlike workers’ comp claims, you can recover damages for pain and suffering in a S.C. personal injury lawsuit.
If you are unsure whether your case involves more than just workers’ compensation, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Fortunately, Stewart Law Offices handles both types of claims.
Contact Our S.C. Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
If you have suffered a workplace injury, the skilled workers’ compensation lawyers at Stewart Law Offices can assist you in filing a claim, collecting medical documents, and seeking maximum compensation from the insurance company. If necessary, we are prepared to represent you in hearings and throughout the appeals process.
A work injury can completely change your life, so please do not hesitate to contact us by calling or filling out our online to contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.