3. What Benefits Are Available Through Workers' Compensation?

Before you decide whether to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, you deserve to know what workers’ comp benefits you may receive if your claim is successful. Every claim is unique. Depending on your work injuries, you may recover:

Medical Benefits

Workers' compensation covers all reasonable and necessary medical treatment. A fair claim includes any doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription medications, physical therapy, or other necessary medical services necessary for you to recover from your work-related illness or injury.

Your recovery may also include reimbursement for mileage or transportation costs to and from medical appointments you attend because of your work injury or illness. 

Wage Replacement Benefits

Wage replacement benefits are typically calculated as a percentage of the employee's average weekly wage, subject to certain limits. They are meant to help you deal with the financial consequences of being unable to work during your recovery.

The specific type and amount of wage replacement benefits depend on the nature and severity of your injury or illness and when you may return to work. The following are different types of wage replacement benefits available through South Carolina workers' compensation:

  • Temporary Total Disability (TTD). If your injury or illness prevents you from returning to work in any capacity, even with accommodations or light-duty tasks, you may be eligible for TTD benefits. TTD benefits are two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly wage and are payable until you can return to work or reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). The maximum amount of time you can receive TTD benefits is usually 500 weeks. 
  • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). TPD benefits may be available if you can return to work with certain limitations that reduce your earnings. TPD benefits are calculated on the difference between your pre-injury average weekly wage and your current earnings. TPD benefits continue until you can resume work at the pay you earned before your injury or for a maximum of 340 weeks.
  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). You may be eligible for PPD benefits if you suffer a partial disability that you are expected to have for the rest of your life. The duration and amount of these benefits are determined by the specific impairment and body part affected, as outlined in South Carolina law.
  • Permanent Total Disability (PTD). If your injury prevents you from working any type of job, you may qualify for PTD benefits. PTD wage replacement may be two-thirds of your average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks. If your injury includes brain damage, paraplegia, or quadriplegia, then you may continue to receive compensation for the rest of your life. 

Vocational Rehabilitation

In some cases, workers' compensation may also cover vocational rehabilitation services to help injured employees return to appropriate employment following a work-related injury or illness. These services may include job retraining, job placement assistance, vocational assessments, and counseling to facilitate the employee's transition back into the workforce.

4. What Are Some Common Work Injuries in Charleston?

The Charleston region has a robust workforce. According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, the workforce grew by more than 17% from 2012 to 2022 and is forecast to include approximately 435,500 workers in 2024.

Work-related injuries can occur across various industries, including but not limited to:

  • Manufacturing. Workers in the manufacturing industry may face hazards related to heavy machinery operation, lifting injuries, and exposure to hazardous materials.
  • Construction. The construction industry carries risks of falls, struck-by incidents, electrocutions, and other accidents involving heavy equipment and tools.
  • Health care. Health care workers are exposed to occupational hazards such as exposure to infectious diseases, needlestick injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries from lifting patients.
  • Transportation and logistics. Employees in the transportation and logistics industries may experience injuries from motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and overexertion from loading and unloading cargo.
  • Hospitality and tourism. Charleston's thriving hospitality and tourism industry can lead to injuries from slips, trips, falls, and overexertion from tasks like lifting and carrying heavy loads.

While these industries represent common sectors where work injuries may occur in Charleston, it's important to remember that work-related injuries can happen in any job or occupation.

5. How Do Work Injuries Happen? 

Every work-related injury is unique, but there are some common causes, including:

  • Slips, trips, and falls. Slippery floors, uneven surfaces, obstructed pathways, and inadequate lighting can cause workers to slip, trip, and fall.
  • Overexertion. Lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy loads without proper technique or assistance can lead to overexertion and strain injuries.
  • Repetitive motion injuries. Performing repetitive tasks or movements over extended periods without breaks or ergonomic support can result in repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Equipment and machinery injuries. Employees may sustain injuries due to collisions or impacts with objects or equipment in the workplace. This can include being struck by falling objects, caught in machinery, or injured by tools and equipment.
  • Fires, explosions, and electrical shocks. Flammable materials, hazardous chemicals, live writing, and faulty electrical components can all cause serious injuries.
  • Violent acts. Co-workers, clients, customers, or intruders may become violent and hurt employees.
  • Hazardous substances.  Chemicals, gases, biological agents, and other hazardous substances could cause sudden or chronic illnesses or diseases.

6. What Should I Do If I’m Hurt at Work in Charleston?

As you navigate your new normal, we encourage you to consult a doctor about your health care needs and a Charleston workers’ comp lawyer about your potential claim.

After you seek prompt medical attention from an authorized health care provider, you can:

  • Report your injury to your employer. Many employers have established procedures for reporting injuries. If your employer does not have reporting procedures, notify your manager and human resources representative in writing. 
  • Learn about your rights. We encourage you to browse our workers’ compensation articles, FAQs, and videos. You can also contact us directly with your questions.
  • Avoid mistakes. Do not return to work until you have medical clearance to do so, learn how to handle an independent medical exam before you go, and do not talk to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer without first speaking to a lawyer.
  • Keep evidence that could help your claim. Relevant evidence may include medical records and details about any expenses you incur because of your work injuries.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice. Failure to comply with your doctor’s treatment plan could raise doubts about the severity of your injuries, the necessity of ongoing treatment, and the validity of your workers’ compensation claim.
  • Consult with a Charleston workers’ compensation lawyer. Insurance companies may try to minimize or deny your claim. A knowledgeable Charleston workers' compensation lawyer can provide valuable guidance. M.P., one of our workers’ compensation clients, describes our approach as "Empathetic, thoughtful, everything explained in simple language, respectful of my time."
Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.