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Know Your Rights: Workers’ Compensation in Columbia, SC

May 27, 2022

Suffering a work-related injury/illness can be a very stressful event. In addition to the health concerns, medical bills can begin piling up and, on top of that, you may be unable to work, thus losing your income.

Fortunately, there are laws in place to help you cope with the situation. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act and Title 42 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, employees who sustain injuries during the course of their work are entitled to receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits. 

If you’ve been injured (or contracted an occupational disease), it’s essential to understand your workers’ compensation rights. So, in this article, we’ll be discussing important things to know about workers’ compensation in Columbia, SC, including:

  • Who is eligible for workers’ compensation
  • What workers’ compensation covers
  • How to file a workers’ compensation claim
  • What to do if your workers’ compensation claim is denied
  • …And other key considerations
Who’s Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

Most W-2 employees in South Carolina are eligible to receive workers’ compensation — including both full-time and part-time employees. This excludes independent contractors, who are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits. On that note, let’s take a look at a few other (rare) exceptions:

  • Some employees in the agricultural and railroad industries are not covered by workers’ comp in SC.
  • Employers with an annual payroll of less than $3,000 do not need to provide workers’ comp benefits.
  • You may be disqualified from workers’ comp if you were intoxicated, committing a crime, engaged in violence, or were intentionally trying to hurt yourself.

It’s also important to note that South Carolina workers’ compensation adheres to a “No-Fault” rule — meaning that you may still be eligible to receive benefits even if your injury was your own fault (carelessness, negligence, etc.). 

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits extend across numerous categories, including:

  • Medical expenses (e.g. hospital bills, prescriptions, etc.)
  • Travel expenses (mileage to-and-from doctors’ offices)
  • Lost wages (up to two-thirds your prior wage, paid weekly)
  • Disability and disfigurement awards (e.g. compensation for a permanent injury)

That being said, unlike personal injury lawsuits, workers’ compensation will not reimburse you for non-economic damages such as pain & suffering. If you have further questions about what workers’ comp will cover, you should speak with a Columbia, SC workers compensation attorney.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

If you’re injured on the job, the first thing you should do (after receiving emergency medical treatment if needed) is notify your employer about the injury. Submit the notification in writing — even if your employer already knows what happened. This will help solidify your claim if any disputes arise.

Once you’ve submitted the notification, it’s actually your employer’s responsibility to file a workers’ compensation claim for you (they’re legally required to do so). So, ensure your employer files a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission

If your employer fails or refuses to file your claim, you can do it yourself by filing a Form 50 with the WCC. But, if this happens, you should consult a Columbia, SC workers compensation lawyer to discuss your employer’s noncooperation and potential recourse.

What to Do if Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied

If your employer or the insurance carrier denies your claim for any reason, the next step is to contest the denial by initiating a mediation meeting, followed by a formal appeal before the Workers’ Compensation Commission. As mentioned above, in this circumstance it’s highly advisable to hire a Columbia, SC workers’ compensation attorney to advise and represent you throughout the process.

The formal appeals process can have numerous stages depending on the outcome of each hearing. For more information on this process, refer to our article: SC Workers Compensation Claim Denied? Here’s What You Can Do

Other Noteworthy Considerations

1) You should report your injury immediately — You must notify your employer about a workplace injury within 90 days. Failure to do so can jeopardize your workers’ comp claim.

2) It’s illegal for your employer to fire you because you filed a workers’ comp claim — employers are strictly forbidden from acting in a retaliatory manner (e.g. firing) because of a workers’ comp case. If this occurs, you’re entitled to legal recourse.

3) You cannot choose your doctor — South Carolina law dictates that, in cases of workers’ compensation, your employer reserves the right to select your doctor. If you see a doctor of your own choosing (except in an emergency), the cost may not be covered under workers’ comp.

Getting Help With Your Columbia, SC Workers’ Compensation Claim

Looking for help with your worker’s compensation claim? At Bernstein & Bernstein, we’re committed to providing thorough and responsive legal action. Our experienced Columbia, SC workers’ compensation attorneys handle each case personally to ensure you’re taken care of throughout the entire process. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your workers’ compensation claim.

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