The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides a system for workers injured on the job to receive medical care and financial benefits without having to prove anyone was at fault. The law applies to most workers who work for an employer with four or more employees regularly employed in the same business.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the worker must have been injured while working within the scope of his or her employment. Generally, any injury suffered by an employee at the employer’s place of business during working hours qualifies. An injury that occurs while traveling to and from work usually does not qualify. However, if the employer provides transportation to a work site and the injury occurs while in route, the injury is within the scope of employment. Whether an accident occurs within the scope of employment depends on how much control the employer had over the circumstances when the injury occurred.
Workers who qualify for workers’ compensation receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage, not to exceed a maximum weekly amount set by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Benefits are payable for a maximum of 500 weeks; however, in catastrophic cases involving a traumatic brain injury, paraplegia or quadriplegia, benefits may continue for the life of the worker. Workers’ compensation also provides for payment of medical expenses, including hospital and rehabilitation services, medication, and travel. In some instances, workers may also be entitled to future medical expenses for life. Payments are made for temporary total disability in an amount determined by a percentage of the worker’s wage, but are also subject to a weekly cap.
What to do if injured on the job?
If injured on the job, a worker should immediately report the injury to a supervisor. Under the workers’ compensation laws, the employer has the right to choose which doctor treats the injured employee. The worker has the right to see his or her own doctor but is responsible for the costs. Many workers’ compensation claims do not require an injured worker hire a lawyer. However, the workers compensation system can be complex and it is extremely important that injured worker fully understand his or her rights. Because most lawyers do not charge a fee for an initial consultation, we strongly recommend that an injured worker speak with a lawyer to make sure they are protected.
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