You could be eligible for workers’ compensation permanent disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation. South Carolina law requires employers with four or more employees to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, which is no-fault coverage for workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses.
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you needn’t prove your employer caused your accident. Even if it was your own fault, you may still collect benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages. Your company can’t retaliate against you or fire you for filing a claim.
Determining Your Impairment Rating For A Workers' Compensation Claim In Charleston
If your claim is successful, your employer must keep you employed while you receive treatment. When you’ve recovered to the extent that your doctor feels you’re going to, you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). At this point, if you’re never going to recover completely from your injury, your doctor may give you an impairment rating that entitles you to permanent partial or total workers’ comp disability benefits. These benefits would cover all your medical care, along with partial compensation for lost wages.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
The length of time for which you may receive PPD benefits for lost wages (two-thirds of your salary) depends on your specific disability:
- Loss of up to 49% of the use of your back: 300 weeks
- Loss of one arm: 220 weeks
- Loss of one leg: 195 weeks
- Loss of vision in one eye: 140 weeks
- Loss of one thumb: 65 weeks
- Loss of one big toe: 32 weeks
- Loss of one other toe: 10 weeks
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
If you’ve lost or lost the use of any of the following, you’re eligible for PTD benefits, which should equal two-thirds of your average weekly wage for 500 weeks, usually paid in a lump sum:
- 50% or more of the use of your back
- Both shoulders
- Both arms
- Both legs
- Both feet
- Both hips
- Both eyes
- Two different body parts (one arm and one leg, for example)
- Death (The deceased employee’s dependents are entitled to 500 weeks’ worth of benefits.)
You may collect benefits essentially for life if your injury has left you:
- Quadriplegic (arms and legs paralyzed)
- Paraplegic (legs paralyzed)
If you are unable to return to your previous work, vocational rehabilitation services may help pay for the training you need to find a job that is suitable to your current condition. Vocational rehabilitation services can also include help with locating job opportunities, preparing a resume, and improving interviewing skills.
How A Worker's Compensation Attorney Can Help
If you receive an impairment rating, the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) will hold a conference to decide exactly what benefits and vocational rehabilitation services you will receive. You, your attorney, insurance company representatives, and a claims mediator will attend.
Because disability claims are the most expensive for the insurance company, its representatives are likely to dispute your claim or offer you a low settlement. That’s why the services of a lawyer are highly recommended at this stage. It will be very hard for you to take on the insurance company by yourself when you’ve just suffered a disabling accident. Your attorney can:
- Calculate all your medical expenses.
- Present your evidence convincingly.
- Negotiate with the insurance company’s lawyers to get you a fair settlement and (in some cases) vocational rehabilitation to train you for a different job
If this conference is not successful, your lawyer can request a hearing with an SCWCC commissioner, who has the power to determine your degree of disability on the basis of your impairment rating. The insurance company must abide by the SCWCC’s decision. If you still do not get an acceptable offer, you have three more levels of appeal, all with strict rules of procedure and guidelines that your attorney can be sure you follow:
- Commission Review
- SC Appeals Court
- SC Supreme Court
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.