In the vast majority of cases, the employer will send you to a doctor of their choice. When the doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement (that you are as good as you are going to get medically) then they will often issue a percentage rating for your injuries. For example, let’s say that you have an injury to your shoulder and the doctor (picked by the employer) assigns an 10% rating to the shoulder. Your case may then be worth 30 weeks of benefits.
The maximum value that you can receive in your workers’ compensation claim depends on the body part that is injured. An injury to the shoulder is assigned a different value than an injury to the leg.
Your compensation rate is determined by taking 66 and 2/3% of your average weekly wage. Your compensation rate is also limited by the SC Workers’ Compensation to a certain amount. For example, in 2018, the weekly rate was set at $838.21 for injuries arising after January 1, 2018. This weekly rate changes every year.
It is up to you to decide whether you are being offered fair value for the injuries you have suffered while at work. In certain situations, an attorney may be able to value your case and find that your case is potentially worth more than the settlement you were offered.
You should accept and perform any light duty work to the best of your ability. If you refuse light duty work, you may lose your rights to certain workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to.
Can I file a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina if my accident occurred in another state or I am not a South Carolina resident?
You can file a workers’ compensation case in South Carolina if: (1) you were hired in South Carolina, (2) your injury occurred in South Carolina or (3) your place of employment is located in South Carolina.
You usually have up to two years to file a claim for benefits. If you had a repetitive trauma injury, you can file within two years after you could have reasonably known you had the injury. However, you are barred from filing the claim more than 7 years after the last date you were exposed to the repetitive trauma.
Under 41-1-80, South Carolina protects workers who file a workers’ compensation claim from being fired or demoted. However, if you are habitually or willfully late or absent from work, drinking while at work, or violate specific company policy, the employer has an affirmative defense for their actions (basically that they will suffer no legal consequences if they can prove they fired you for these reasons).
In order to make sure you don’t lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits, you should report the accident or injury to your employer as soon as possible. SC 42-15-20 states that you must report your accident to your employer within 90 days to preserve your benefits.
The vast majority of employees are covered under SC Workers’ Compensation Act. If your employer has 4 or more employees, you will be covered. Your employer may classify you as an independent contractor that is not covered.