No, not legally. If you work for a South Carolina company or business that has four or more employees, your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This is no-fault coverage for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Every employee (except for federal workers, railroad employees, and a few others) is covered. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you may file a claim with your employer’s insurance company for your medical expenses and for temporary disability benefits to make up for wages lost due to your work-related injury or illness.
Although some injured employees might hesitate to file workers’ compensation claims because they fear they’ll be fired, it is not legal for your employer to terminate your employment for filing a worker’s comp claim. Doing so would be considered retaliatory termination, which is against the law. Millions of employees across the country file successful workers’ compensation claims every year.
Protection for Injured Workers In Horry County, South Carolina
South Carolina law does not allow an employer to fire a worker who has filed a workers’ compensation claim. If companies were permitted to do so, they would have no incentive to keep their workplaces safe and secure. They could simply terminate any injured complainer and ignore the unsafe conditions that caused the employee’s accident and injury. Workplaces would become more dangerous places, and more accidents, injuries, and illnesses would result. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) protects injured workers because it wants employers to invest in workplace safety and reduce the chances of accidents and injuries on the job.
Indirect Retaliation Is Also Illegal If You've Been Injured On The Job
Although South Carolina law prohibits direct retaliatory termination, it is possible that your employer might try to retaliate indirectly against you by saying that your former position has been eliminated or that you are no longer physically able to carry out your essential job duties. For this reason, all of the following actions are prohibited by the SCWCC:
- Forced leave
- Workplace harassment
- Discriminatory treatment
- Retaliatory termination
You are protected against such actions from the time of your accident and injury, even before you file your claim. After you’ve filed, your employer is required to keep you on until your doctor decides you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). At that time, when you have recovered to the extent your doctor feels is possible, the company must make a reasonable attempt to accommodate any restrictions that result from the injuries you sustained and let you resume your duties. The SCWCC wants injured employees to continue working at their jobs if at all possible.
Do Not Wait to File For Workers' Compensation In Horry County
If you’ve suffered a work-related injury in South Carolina, you should immediately:
- Report your accident and injury to your employer.
- Report your accident and injury to whoever handles workers’ comp cases in your workplace.
- File a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance carrier.
- Seek medical attention from the doctor recommended by the insurance company.
- Follow this doctor’s advice and treatment recommendations carefully.
Although you have 90 days to report your injury, you should not wait to do so. Filing your claim as soon as possible increases your chance of success. You don’t want to give the insurance company any reason to say your injury was not serious or that you made it worse by not getting timely treatment or not following the doctor’s orders.
If the insurance company disputes your claim or you believe you’ve been unjustly fired, harassed, or discriminated against in retaliation for filing, an experienced attorney can help you to request a hearing before the SCWCC or to file a retaliatory termination lawsuit against your employer.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.