Employees Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Claims

Eligibility for workers' compensation benefits extends to employees who sustain injuries or illnesses directly related to their job duties. This includes work-related injuries resulting from accidents, such as slips and falls, and occupational illnesses caused by exposure to hazardous substances.

It's essential to understand that not all injuries occurring in the workplace make an employee eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The injury or illness must have a direct connection to the employee's job responsibilities and occur within the scope of employment. Additionally, you must be considered an employee, not an independent contractor, to file a successful workers’ compensation claim.

What a Workers’ Compensation Recovery Could Include

When an employee sustains a work-related injury or illness in South Carolina, workers' compensation provides various benefits to assist with medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation.

Medical Benefits

Workers' compensation covers all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to the work-related injury or illness. This includes doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription medications, physical therapy, and other necessary medical services for the employee's recovery.

Additionally, injured workers may be entitled to reimbursement for mileage or transportation costs associated with medical appointments related to their workers' compensation claim.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)

If you can return to work but with certain limitations that reduce your pre-injury earnings, Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits could be available to you. These benefits amount to two-thirds of the difference between what you earned before your work-related injury or illness and your current earnings. These benefits continue until you can resume your previous job at full pay or for a maximum of 340 weeks.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD)

If your injury prevents you from returning to work in any capacity, even with accommodations or light-duty tasks, Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits may be an option for you. TTD benefits equate to two-thirds of your pre-injury salary and are payable until you're deemed medically ready to return to work, up to a maximum of 500 weeks.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)

In cases of permanent partial disability, the duration of benefits is determined by the specific impairment and body part affected, as outlined in South Carolina law. 

Permanent Total Disability (PTD)

When a disability completely prevents you from returning to your job, including light-duty work, Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits come into play. Certain conditions, such as the loss of both eyes, hips, legs, feet, shoulders, arms, 50% use of the back, or a combination of two different body parts, qualify you for PTD benefits. 

For PTD, you're entitled to medical care and two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a maximum of 500 weeks. However, if your injury results in brain damage, paraplegia, or quadriplegia, there's no time limit on benefits, and you may receive compensation, including lost wages and medical care, for life.

Insurance companies often vigorously contest PTD claims due to their substantial financial implications. It's common for them to employ teams of adjusters and lawyers to challenge, reject, or diminish the value of claims.

Vocational Rehabilitation

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

Where Work Injuries Happen

Work-related injuries can occur across various industries, reflecting the diverse economic landscape of Myrtle Beach and Horry County. Popular industries in the region where employees may sustain injuries include the following:

  • Manufacturing Industry. Manufacturing environments often involve working with heavy machinery, chemicals, and repetitive tasks, increasing the risk of accidents, such as slips, trips, falls, and injuries from equipment malfunctions.
  • Technology Industry. Despite its relatively low physical risk compared to other industries, technology workers may still experience ergonomic issues, eye strain, and repetitive strain injuries from prolonged computer use. 
  • Marine Industry. Workers in the marine industry, including fishing, boat building, and maritime transportation, face unique risks such as slips and falls on wet surfaces, accidents involving machinery and equipment, injuries from handling heavy loads, and water-related injuries, such as drowning.
  • Healthcare Industry. Healthcare workers are exposed to occupational hazards, including exposure to infectious diseases, needlestick injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries from lifting patients. 

While these industries represent common sectors where work injuries may occur in Myrtle Beach, it's important to note that work-related injuries can happen in any job. Regardless of the industry, employees who suffer injuries or illnesses while performing their job duties may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits in South Carolina.

How Work Injuries Happen 

Every work-related injury is unique. However, some common causes include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls. Slippery surfaces, uneven flooring, cluttered walkways, and inadequate lighting can contribute to workplace slips, trips, and falls. 
  • Overexertion. Lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects without proper technique or assistance can lead to overexertion and musculoskeletal injuries. 
  • Repetitive strain injuries. Performing repetitive tasks or motions over extended periods without adequate rest or ergonomic support can lead to repetitive strain injuries. 
  • Contact with objects and equipment. Employees may suffer injuries when they come into contact 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 and explosions. Myrtle Beach workplaces with flammable materials, hazardous chemicals, or faulty electrical systems put employees at risk of fires and explosion injuries. 
  • Electrocution. Contact with live electrical components, faulty wiring, or overloaded circuits can lead to electrocution in the workplace. 
  • Workplace violence. Employees may be at risk of workplace violence from co-workers, clients, customers, or intruders. 
  • Exposure to hazardous substances. Workers exposed to hazardous substances such as chemicals, fumes, gases, and biological agents may suffer acute or chronic health effects. 

These and other risks can result in significant work-related injuries or illnesses.

Types of Work Injuries and Illnesses

Work-related injuries and illnesses can vary widely in nature and severity, affecting employees across different industries and occupations. Here are some common work injuries and illnesses:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries. Musculoskeletal injuries affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves, often resulting from overexertion, repetitive motions, or lifting heavy objects. Examples include strains, sprains, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and herniated discs.
  • Broken bones, concussions, and other traumatic injuries. Traumatic injuries occur suddenly and are typically the result of accidents or incidents in the workplace. Examples include fractures, dislocations, concussions, lacerations, contusions, paralysis, and crush injuries.
  • Burn injuries. Burns can result from exposure to heat, flames, chemicals, electricity, or radiation in the workplace. Depending on the severity, burns can cause first-degree, second-degree, third-degree, or fourth-degree burns, leading to pain, scarring, and long-term complications.
  • Respiratory illnesses. Exposure to hazardous substances such as dust, fumes, gases, vapors, and biological agents can lead to respiratory illnesses in the workplace. Examples include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumoconiosis (e.g., silicosis, asbestosis), and occupational lung diseases.
  • Occupational hearing loss.  Prolonged exposure to loud noise levels in the workplace can result in occupational hearing loss over time. This can manifest as temporary or permanent hearing impairment, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or other auditory problems.
  • Occupational stress and mental health disorders. Workplace stress, harassment, bullying, violence, and traumatic incidents can contribute to mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse disorders among employees.
  • Occupational diseases. Certain occupations carry risks of developing specific diseases due to exposure to occupational hazards over time. Examples include mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, lead poisoning, mercury poisoning, and radiation-related cancers.

Eight Tips for People Hurt in Myrtle Beach Work Accidents

It’s challenging to know what to do after a work injury. You can begin protecting your rights by:

  • Getting prompt medical care. Seek prompt medical attention from an authorized health care provider. Delaying medical treatment may jeopardize your claim and hinder your recovery.
  • Understand South Carolina Workers' Compensation Law. Familiarize yourself with the provisions of the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act, including your rights, obligations, and the benefits available to you as an injured worker. 
  • Avoid common mistakes. Be mindful of potential mistakes that could impact your claim, such as failing to report your injury on time, providing inconsistent information, or engaging in activities that contradict your claimed injuries. 
  • Cooperate with requests for Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs). If requested by your employer or the insurance carrier, attend scheduled independent medical examinations (IMEs) with impartial physicians. Provide accurate information about your injuries and medical history during these exams to ensure an objective evaluation of your condition.
  • Know your return-to-work options. Understand your rights regarding return-to-work options, including light-duty assignments, modified job duties, and vocational rehabilitation programs. When medically appropriate, communicate with your employer and health care provider about your work restrictions and capabilities to facilitate a smooth transition back to work.
  • Keep detailed records. Maintain thorough records of all medical treatment, prescriptions, diagnostic tests, and related expenses incurred due to your work-related injury or illness. Additionally, document interactions with your employer, insurance company, health care providers, and other relevant parties involved in your workers' compensation claim.
  • Follow medical advice. Adhere to the treatment plan prescribed by your health care provider and attend all recommended appointments to facilitate your recovery. Failure to comply with medical recommendations could raise doubts about the severity of your injuries or the necessity of ongoing treatment.
  • Consult with a Myrtle Beach workers’ compensation lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can provide valuable guidance, advocate on your behalf, and help navigate the complexities of the claims process to protect your legal rights and possible recovery.
Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.