Are there employer exemptions for workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina?

Almost every South Carolina business with at least four employees is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which covers employees’ work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. Both for-profit and non-profit businesses are included. If you’re injured or become sick on the job, workers’ comp generally provides no-fault coverage of your:

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  • Medical expenses
  • Wages lost due to time off work
  • Disability care if you can’t return to work
  • Vocational re-training in some cases
  • Death benefits (for your family if you are fatally injured)

It’s possible, however, that you work for one of the few employers who are exempt. If so, that means your employer is not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Employer Exemptions

The following types of businesses are not required by South Carolina law to carry workers’ comp:

  • Railroads/railway express companies
  • Agricultural businesses
  • State/county fair associations
  • Employers with fewer than four employees
  • Companies with an annual payroll of less than $3,000

Such employers may choose to purchase workers’ comp coverage so that employees may file claims for benefits, but they are not required by South Carolina law to do so. 

Employee Exemptions

Some employees are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits even if their employers carry workers’ comp insurance. Non-covered workers include:

  • Federal employees of the state
  • Some real estate agents working for brokers
  • Casual employees working only on an as-needed basis
  • Members of Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs)
  • Sole proprietors
  • Partners
  • Independent contractors

One employer’s definition of an independent contractor is not necessarily the same as another’s. All workers who receive 1099 wage statements are not necessarily independent contractors. Furthermore, if a subcontractor carries no workers’ comp insurance, the general contractor in charge of a job or project could be liable for workers’ on-the-job injuries, which are common in the building trades. 

For this reason, a general contractor might require subcontractors to purchase workers’ comp insurance for their own workers. Some employees who are not automatically protected by their employers’ workers’ comp coverage might also be able to purchase insurance on their own to cover work-related injuries. If you’re hurt on the job, an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you determine whether you’re covered and what to do if you’re not.

Common Workers’ Compensation Injuries and Illnesses

Workplace accidents and conditions lead to a variety of injuries and illnesses for which employees can file workers’ comp claims:

  • Broken, fractured, or crushed bones from falls or impact with falling objects
  • Lung damage from inhaling toxic fumes
  • Repetitive motion conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dislocated knees and torn ligaments from slip-and-fall accidents or lifting/carrying heavy objects
  • Shoulder injuries including dislocation, torn rotator cuffs, or degeneration from heavy lifting or repetitive motion
  • Spinal injuries like herniated/bulging discs, fractured/fused vertebrae, and degeneration
  • Pulled muscles and ligaments
  • Burns and lacerations
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)

Conditions Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation

Even if your employer carries workers’ comp, some conditions are not covered:  

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)

The following conditions are not covered unless related to a specific workplace injury/illness:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Embolism
  • Aneurysm  

What to Do If Your Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance

Although most South Carolina employers are required to carry workers’ comp insurance, failure to do so is not a crime, and there is no set penalty for non-exempt employers who don’t have workers’ comp. If your employer is not exempt but does not have workers’ comp coverage, you could receive compensation through the Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF), which is overseen by the South Carolina Second Injury Fund. 

If the UEF accepts your claim and compensates you for expenses related to your workplace injury/illness, it will then have a lien against the assets of the employer that should have paid your claim. If the UEF denies your claim, you might face a legal battle with the Second Injury Fund. Depending on the specifics of your claim, you might also be able to file a civil lawsuit against your employer or a liable third party. In such cases, the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney are vital to your success. You don’t want to go up against a state agency or a company/corporation without legal representation. They will have lawyers on their team. So should you.

Have You Been Injured On The Job?

If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

 

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.