What is workers' compensation:

An employee who is injured on the job in South Carolina may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The injured employee will not be eligible for those benefits unless the accident is reported to the employer as soon as possible, but no later than ninety (90) days after the accident. To obtain benefits after notifying the employer of the accident and injury, an injured employee must file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within two (2) years from the date of the work accident.

In South Carolina, workers’ compensation provides three basic benefits to workers who have an accepted work-related injury. These benefits are summarized below:

1. Medical Treatment

In an accepted claim, an injured worker is entitled to treatment for his work-related injury. The employer has the right to choose which physician will treat you. That physician is called the “authorized treating physician.” If you choose to go to a physician other than one the employer chooses, you may be responsible for paying that physician yourself.

If you are an injured worker and you refuse medical treatment when offered by your employer, other workers’ compensation benefits you may be receiving could be terminated.

You should receive medical treatment for your work injury until your treating physician determines you are at maximum medical improvement. That means treatment is at a point where your condition will remain the same and is not likely to improve. Medical treatment may also be needed after reaching maximum medical improvement in order to maintain your functioning at that level.

The employer, through the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, is required to pay for medications prescribed by the authorized treating physician for treatment of a work related injury. If the carrier fails to pay for some of your prescriptions, you should keep all receipts for all prescriptions you have paid for in order to get reimbursed.

If you travel over ten miles, round-trip, to any work-related doctor’s visit, treatment (such as physical therapy), diagnostic procedure (such as an MRI), pharmacy, or hospital, then you are entitled to reimbursement for your mileage at the approved rate.

Currently that rate is $0.505 per mile.

2. Temporary Disability Payments

If your authorized treating physician takes you out of work because of your work-related injury for over seven (7) days, then you are entitled to weekly benefits beginning on the 8th day. If you are out of work for longer than fourteen (14) days, you are entitled to receive weekly benefits from the first (1st) day your physician took you out of work.

Unless the treating physician authorizes you to be out of work, workers’ compensation will not pay for the days you miss.

The temporary compensation is paid weekly in an amount that equals two/thirds of your average weekly wage (your gross weekly pay). That amount is called your compensation rate.

The maximum monetary benefit any injured worker can receive is five hundred weeks (500) of temporary compensation, except where there is physical brain injury, paraplegia, or quadraplegia. In those cases, an injured worker is not limited to the five hundred week maximum.

3. Settlement/Award

If you are left with any permanent disability caused by your work injury after reaching maximum medical improvement, you may be entitled to a settlement or an award that may be paid in one lump-sum check. In some circumstances, the Workers’ Compensation Commission may require that an award be paid in weekly checks, rather than in one lump-sum check.

The amount of your settlement or award will depend primarily on your degree of disability and your compensation rate, and, in some cases, the amount of weekly benefits you may have already been paid.

You may also be provided with causally related medical care for the future, depending on the terms of your settlement agreement or the provisions of an award.

Do I have to use an attorney?

No. You can request a hearing by calling the Workers’ Compensation Commission at 803.737.5700. If you have further questions about proceeding without an attorney, or cannot find the information you need, you can contact the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s ombudsman at 803.787.5713.

Often an injured worker relies on his employer for information about workers’ compensation benefits but wonders if he or she is getting all of the benefits workers’ compensation provides.” If you do decide to consult with an attorney who practices in the field of workers’ compensation, you can find contact information for one of our attorneys here. Many will do a free case review for you.

Please note that it is unlawful for an attorney to accept any money directly from a client in a South Carolina workers’ compensation case. Any fee requested by a lawyer in a workers’ compensation claim must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and if awarded it will be deducted from any additional benefits owed to you by the insurance carrier.

Workers' Compensation Commission's Ombudsman
Phone: 803.737.5744

Workers' Compensation Commission Web Site

Compensation

Workers’ compensation pays for necessary medical treatment, loss of wages during a period of disability, and compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement. For example, if an employee is injured and unable to work for more than seven days, he or she is eligible to be compensated at the rate of 66 2/3% of the employee’s average weekly wage, limited to 100% of the State’s average weekly wage as established each year by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. Awards are usually made in terms of the number of weeks of compensation to which the employee is entitled based on the extent of the disabling injury.

In South Carolina, the disability or death of an employee resulting from an occupational disease is treated as an injury by accident, and the employee, or in case of death, the deceased’s dependents, may be entitled to compensation.

In addition to occupational diseases, injury from harmful exposures to ionizing radiation is also defined for particular attention under the Workers’ Compensation Act.