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The Importance of Understanding Your Workers' Compensation Benefits in South Carolina

South Carolina's workforce is a dynamic engine driving the economy forward. The state's diverse industries rely on dedicated employees, many of whom are prone to workplace injuries that have lasting effects on their health and well-being. Fortunately, South Carolina ensures certain employee protections through its workers' compensation system.


Understanding your or your employees’ rights and benefits of workers’ compensation is crucial, especially when faced with a workplace injury or illness. Below, we answer the question, “Why is workers’ compensation important?” and help you understand what you or your employees are entitled to.


What Is Workers' Compensation?

Workers’ compensation (or workers’ comp) insurance covers employees who sustain injuries or illnesses on the job or as a result of their job. Qualified employees can receive financial support for medical care and loss of wages while temporarily or permanently unable to work. Workers' compensation insurance is a government-mandated requirement for businesses in 49 states, including South Carolina. 


Under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, any business with at least four employees (excluding casual employees) must have workers’ comp insurance. Employers need to shoulder the insurance premiums. Non-compliance can result in companies covering the claim costs for uninsured and injured employees. 


What Are the Benefits of Workers’ Compensation?

In South Carolina, workers' compensation insurance provides several benefits to injured employees. Here are some of the key benefits of workers' compensation:


  • Medical Expenses Coverage: Workers' comp covers the costs of medical bills, including doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription medications, physical therapy, and other necessary medical services.


  • Wage Replacement: If an employee cannot work due to a work-related injury or illness, workers' comp covers a portion of the employee's lost wages during the period of disability. How much it covers can depend on the insurance package.


  • Temporary Total Disability Benefits: Employees recovering from work-related injuries may be eligible for temporary total disability benefits. These provide financial support to workers during their recovery period until they can return to work.


  • Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: In case of a work-related injury that results in permanent impairment that doesn’t prevent the employee from returning to work, an employee can receive permanent partial disability benefits. These compensate workers for the loss of earning capacity resulting from the permanent impairment.


  • Permanent Total Disability Benefits: If a work-related injury renders a worker permanently unable to work, these benefits provide ongoing financial support to workers who can’t find gainful employment.


  • Death Benefits: In case a worker dies as a result of a work-related incident, workers' compensation provides death benefits to the worker's dependents as ongoing financial support.


  • Legal Protections: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for filing workers' compensation claims. In case of denials, employees have the right to appeal through the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission.


Knowing Your Rights: Why Is Workers’ Compensation Important?

Workers’ comp protects both employees and employers. Knowing the answer to “Why is workers’ compensation important?” can help you receive just compensation in case of workplace incidents. Here are key reasons to know the benefits of workers’ compensation insurance:


  • Protection for Employees: Workers' compensation provides financial and medical support to employees who suffer work-related injuries and illnesses. Workers' compensation ensures that injured employees receive the care they need and are not left financially vulnerable due to workplace accidents.


  • No-Fault System: Workers' compensation is on a no-fault basis. This means that employees are generally entitled to benefits regardless of who is to blame for the workplace incident. This eliminates the need for employees to prove negligence from someone else, which helps them access benefits without the need for lengthy and costly legal battles.


  • Legal Protections: Employees are protected from employer retaliation for filing claims. Employers are prohibited from terminating, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against employees filing claims. These legal protections help employees feel comfortable reporting workplace injuries and exercising their rights.

  • Workplace Safety: Through workers’ comp benefits, employers may be more motivated to establish effective safety measures to prevent accidents and injuries. Employers can minimize their workers' compensation costs by reducing the risk of workplace injuries while also improving productivity. 


Workers’ compensation also benefits employers. By accepting workers’ compensation, employees waive their right to sue their employer for damages, as their insurance coverage provides compensation. Employers can protect themselves from costly lawsuits, liability claims, and financial risks resulting from workplace accidents by carrying workers' compensation insurance.


Navigating the Claims Process

Filing and pursuing a workers' compensation claim can be daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with the legal system. 


  1. Reporting the Incident: If you are injured or ill in a work-related incident, notify your employer immediately. Ensure you inform them in writing and include details of the injury, the date and time, and any witnesses present. Failure to report the injury within the required timeframe could result in a denial of benefits.

  2. Initiate Claims Process: Your employer should forward the claim to their insurance carrier, who will initiate an investigation. This may involve obtaining statements from the injured worker, gathering medical records, and interviewing witnesses. 

  3. Claims Payment: If the claim is approved, the injured worker will receive benefits, including compensation for medical expenses, temporary or permanent disability payments, and more. The employee can appeal the decision through the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission if the claim is denied.


Seeking Legal Guidance

Disputes between employers and employees can arise about valid claims or the benefits owed. Given the complexities of workers' compensation laws and the potential for conflicts, many injured workers find it beneficial to seek legal guidance. 


An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide invaluable assistance throughout the claims process. They can guide their client and ensure all necessary documentation is submitted correctly. In hearings and appeals, an attorney can skillfully represent the injured worker.


A skilled attorney can also help individuals understand their rights and explore options for maximizing their benefits. For example, if the employer or insurance carrier offers a settlement, an attorney can advise their client whether the settlement is fair compensation for their injury. 

Seek Experienced Legal Advice at Littlejohn Law

Understanding your rights as an employee can ensure you receive your benefits and just compensation in case of a work-related injury or illness. Employees should know the basics of workers' compensation, how to report injuries, and when to seek legal guidance. 


Littlejohn Law offers experienced legal services for workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina. If you would like to discuss your claim, contact our office to schedule a consultation. 


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