Yes, there is a statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina, but it’s not the same as the three-year statute that applies to personal injury claims. In personal injury cases, you have three years to file a lawsuit against the party who caused your injury. For a work-related injury case, however, you generally may not file a lawsuit against your employer or a co-worker at any time.
Workers’ comp exists, in part, to eliminate work-related injury lawsuits. You aren’t required to prove any negligence on the part of your employer because it doesn’t matter whose fault your injury is. Even if you caused your own injury, you may file a workers’ comp claim for benefits as long as you did not:
- Intentionally hurt yourself
- Suffer an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Sustain an injury while committing fraud
Reporting and Filing Deadlines
If you’ve suffered a work-related accidental injury or occupational illness in the course and scope of performing your job duties, workers’ comp should cover:
- All your medical expenses
- Two-thirds of your lost wages
- Vocational retraining (in some cases)
- Death benefits (if you’ve lost a loved one to a work-related injury or illness)
While the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) gives you 90 days to report your injury or illness to your employer and two years to file a claim for workers’ comp benefits, you definitely should not wait to do either. It’s important to remember that the wheels of justice can turn very slowly, and any delay in reporting or filing gives your employer’s insurer ammunition to use against you in your claim. The insurer will insist that you would have reported and filed sooner if you were as seriously injured or ill as you say you are.
As soon as possible after you sustain your accidental work-related injury or are diagnosed with an occupational illness, you should take the following steps to maximize your chances of a successful workers’ comp claim:
- Submit a written report to your boss or whoever deals with workers’ comp claims at your workplace.
- If your employer doesn’t file a claim for you with the SCWCC, you should do so by submitting a Form 50, which you can find on the SCWCC website.
- Your employer’s insurance company should have a list of certified doctors and recommend one of them for you to see. Visit this doctor right away. You may not just go to your own family doctor. Doing so could affect your claim negatively.
- Keep all appointments with the recommended doctor and any healthcare providers to whom you’re sent.
- Follow the doctor’s treatment guidelines to the letter and take any medication exactly as it’s prescribed.
- If you have a contagious illness, quarantine yourself for as long as the doctor recommends.
- Keep all receipts and records of your medical appointments, treatments, and prescriptions.
- Contact an experienced worker’s comp attorney for a free consultation about your claim if:
- Your injury is serious and your medical bills apt to be high.
- Your employer or the insurer disputes your claim.
- You don’t receive benefits in a timely manner.
- The insurance company is slow or reluctant to approve necessary treatment expenses.
South Carolina Workers' Compensation Statute of Limitations for a Worsening Condition
In some cases, a successful workers’ comp claimant who has received benefits for a work-related injury or illness might not recover as expected. If you find your condition worsening rather than improving after you’ve completed your medical treatments, you have only one year from your last benefit payment to file another Form 50 for your worsening condition.
There are even more deadlines to be aware of if you appeal a denied claim to one or more of the five levels available to you:
- Informal conference
- SCWCC hearing
- Commission review
- SC Court of Appeals
- SC Supreme Court
Procedural requirements must be met at each level. Failure to meet them can mean failure to collect the benefits you need.
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.