Suffering a serious injury on the job can be very stressful. You will probably have a lot on your mind as you try to figure out how you will pay for any treatment. Also, you will be wondering about how you will be able to pay your bills while you are out of work.
In all states across the US, there are laws that make many employers liable to compensate an employee for his/her injuries. These benefits vary from state to state. For example, the compensation you receive in South Carolina for the loss of an arm will be different from the amount you would receive from a similar claim made in Charlotte, North Carolina or Augusta, Georgia.
According to the South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act, if an employee gets hurt on the job, they may be entitled to compensation. This compensation can include payment of medical expenses, a weekly check when the doctor has written the employee out of work and benefits for any permanent injury the employee suffers in an accident.
In South Carolina, if the employer falls under the workers’ compensation act they (or their insurance company) will have the right to choose the treating doctor and will also be responsible for paying all the medical bills related to your work injury. Additionally, other benefits and compensation are determined by taking different factors into consideration.
The best way to figure out what benefits and compensation you may be entitled to (and to make sure your claim is filed properly), is to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Your lawyer should be able to help you understand the law, your rights, and the value of your case. After thoroughly reviewing all your injuries and the possible effects they will have on your life, your attorney should file a Form 50 with The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission in Columbia. This will make sure your case is established with The Commission and put your employer on notice that you were injured on the job and have made a claim.
The following are three areas you need to consider when figuring out the amount of compensation you may receive.
The Worker’s Average Weekly Salary
According to South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Law, your average weekly wage is the factor used to calculate the amount of compensation you will receive. To determine the average weekly wage, you need to look at your gross weekly earnings before taxes for the last four quarters you worked – not including the quarter you got hurt in.
If your injuries causes the doctor to write you out of work, you should be eligible to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage. However, if your average weekly wage is determined to be less than $75/week, you will most likely receive that amount.
Additionally, the Worker’s Compensation law in South Carolina caps the amount of weekly compensation you can receive. If two-thirds of your weekly pay exceeds the cap, you will only receive the cap amount. According to the limits set in 2018, you cannot receive more than $838.21 , even if your average weekly wage is a lot higher than this amount.
The Location of the Injury
The Workers’ Compensation Code of Law in each state limits the amount and length of your compensation depending on which body part has been injured. For example, if you lose the use of a particular body part, your benefits will be covered for a limited amount of time.
Like in every other state, South Carolina law has limits for how much an injured worker can recover. The South Carolina Code of Laws Title 42, Chapter 9 (Workers’ Compensation), contains a schedule of Compensation and Payment for disability. Below are some examples of coverage length from Section 42-9-30:
- Loss of use of an index finger is covered for 40 weeks.
- Loss of use of a thumb is covered for 65 weeks.
- Loss of use of a hand is covered for 185 weeks.
- Loss of an eye is covered for 140 weeks.
- Complete loss of hearing in one ear is covered for 80 weeks along with The Commission providing the determination of proportional benefits based on national medical standards.
- Loss of use of a hip is covered for 280 weeks.
Within the clauses in this section, you will also find the amount of benefits you will receive when you lose the use of, or lose a particular body part. Calculating your benefits under South Carolina law can be complicated – you’ll generally receive a certain percentage of your average weekly wage ( 2/3s ), then you need to figure out which body part ( or parts ) is injured and how badly it is injured.
This schedule and the specific body part or parts you injured will determine the amount of benefits, and the number of weeks you will receive benefits. In most cases involving permanent injury, the employee’s doctor gives an impairment rating. A lawyer can use this rating to begin negotiations for a settlement.
The Nature of the Injury
The nature of the injury or injuries you suffered is the next detail you will need to take into consideration. You will need a doctor’s evaluation detailing the severity of the disability and the effects it will have on your ability to continue work and move forward in with your life. This will have a significant impact on your case as it will determine what added benefits and compensation you may be eligible to receive. As mentioned previously, the impairment rating assigned to your injury or injuries will be a key factor in this process.
Impairment ratings, also called permanent disability ratings, are used to determine the severity of the damage that resulted from an injury. A scale published by the American Medical Association (AMA) is normally used by doctors as a guide to determine the level of permanent damage.
In the majority of cases, the doctor determines the impairment rating once the injured person has reached the maximum level of medical improvement and is released from treatment. The rating given is typically a percentage between 0 and 100.
If the physician gives an unfair rating (significantly lower than the AMA guide), you might consider getting a second opinion. Your attorney should be able to make an appointment for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) with an independent medical examiner who has no connection with the employer/insurer.
Remember that this rating is an essential tool that can help your lawyer negotiate a higher settlement. So make sure that your impairment rating is accurate and represents the severity of your injury or injuries correctly.
The Law Offices of David L. Hood – Representing Injured Workers in South Carolina
Navigating your way through all of these areas and the details involved in filing a workers’ compensation claim can be a difficult process. If you’re injured, in pain and facing financial problems you might naturally miss some important details in your case.
Working with an experienced attorney should make the process that much easier for you. Your lawyer should be able to keep up with the insurance company, your employer, and keep your case on track. This will give you time to focus on your recovery instead of stressing out about handling the claim alone.
The Law Offices of David L. Hood have been fighting for the rights of injured workers in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, Charleston and all across South Carolina for over 25 years. We have a dedicated team that will strive to take care of your claim professionally and treat you with respect. Over the years we’ve represented hundreds of injured workers and their families, working hard to get them the medical treatment and compensation they deserve.
To learn more about what we can do for you, contact our offices to set up a free initial consultation. If you choose to work with us, we will handle your case on a contingent fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we make a recovery for you. To get in touch with us, you can call our offices at (843) 491-6025 or email us here.