This page will give you a quick, and very basic, overview of the S.C. Workers'
Compensation system. It is not meant to be a comprehensive explanation of the system or
the benefits available. If you don't want an explanation, try the Workers Comp Tips button
Workers' Compensation; Workman's Compensation; Workmen's Compensation.
These terms are used interchangeably to refer to state systems for compensating employees that
are hurt on the job. This page is meant to be a brief description of the South Carolina Workers'
Compensation system. Each state has its own unique system. The rules and benefits available
vary widely from state to state.
In South Carolina employers with four or more employees are supposed to have workers'
compensation insurance. The law applies to most private employers, as well as the state, cities,
towns, and all governmental agencies.
If you are injured on the job should notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. The
law says that you technically have 90 days to report the injury. However, as a practical matter, if
you do not report the injury immediately your chances of receiving compensation go way down.
The general rule is that only "injuries by accident" or occupational diseases are covered. There
are all sorts of technical rules that apply to various situations, but the general rule is if your injury
or disease was caused by or aggravated by some part of your work it is probably covered by
Medical Treatment--The Big Gotcha!
If you are injured on the job in South Carolina you are entiled to all "reasonable and
necessary" medical care. The Big Gotcha is that your employer, or the employer's insurance
company, gets to choose the doctor you see! They are called Company Doctors for a reason.
You are entitled to medical treatment until the doctor says you are as well as you are going to
get. This is also called the point of "maximum medical improvement." In most cases your
medical treatment ends at this point. However, there are a few limited exceptions. If you are
found to be totally and permanently disabled you are entitled to injury related medical care for the
rest of your life. If you are not totally disabled you may still be entitled to continued medical care
IF the doctor says you need it in order to "lessen the period of your disability."
Benefits Available--Weekly Compensation.
If your unable to work for more than 7 calendar days you are entitled to weekly workers'
compensation checks. This is what is known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD). Your weekly
TTD benefits are supposed to be two-thirds of what you were making prior to your injury. You
normally receive these benefits until your doctor allows you to return to work. If the doctor says
you can do light duty, and the company does not give you light duty, the insurance company is
supposed to continue to pay you weekly compensation until you are released to full duty.
The problem with weekly compensation is insurance companies cannot be penalized if they
refuse to start your checks. If they will not start your checks voluntarily the only thing you can do
is request a hearing and ask a commissioner to order them to start payment. Once they start your
checks it very common for checks to be late, or totally stopped, for no reason. In some cases
you may be able to receive a 10% penalty if your checks are late. However, S.C. law gives
insurance companies a 14 day grace period before checks are considered late! This is another
area where S.C. law is seriously deficient. The law also says you can sometimes get a 25%
penalty if they improperly stop your checks completely.
Permanent Partial Disability.
If you have some sort of permanent injury you may be entitled to compensation for permanent
partial disability. How much you get depends on the part of the body injured, how much partial
disability you have to that body part, AND how much you were making before you got hurt.
Total loss of a body part entitles an employee to a set number of extra weeks of compensation
(usually paid in a lump sum). For example, total loss of an arm is worth 220 weeks of
compensation. Total loss of a leg is worth 195 weeks. But what about partial disability? A 10%
partial disability to the arm is worth 10% of 222, or 22 weeks of compensation.
Remember: How much you receive for partial disability also depends on how much you were
making before you got hurt. Example: If you were making $450 per week before you got hurt
your compensation rate would two thirds of that amount, or $300 a week. If you sustained a
10% disability to the arm you would get 22 weeks (10% of 220 wks.) X $300 per week =
$6600. However, if you were making $750 per week before you got hurt your compensation
rate would be $500 per week. At that rate you would receive 22 w eeks X $500 per week =
Your doctor may say that you have a certain degree of permanent "impairment." This is NOT
the same thing as the amount of "disability" you have. Commissioners are supposed to consider
what the doctor says regarding impairment as well as your age, education, and vocational
background in determining how much disability you have.
Permanent Partial Loss of Earning Capacity.
Some people who are injured on the job are not totally disabled, but sometimes have a
permanent decrease in earning capacity. In some cases you can receive compensation for this
decrease in earning capacity. However, you may only receive this compensation for a maximum
of 340 weeks.
If you sustain permanent scarring or disfigurement you may be entitled to additional compesation.
Some cases that do not qualify for compensation for disfigurement may be eligible for
compensation for skin loss.
Permanent and Total Disability (P&T).
In some states if you are permanently and totally disabled you are entitled to disability benefits for
the rest of your life. Unfortunately in South Carolina compensation for total disability is limited to
500 weeks in most cases! The only time an injured employee is entitled to lifetime compensation
is in cases of permanent brain damage or paralysis.
This is another area where the South Carolina workers compensation system is inferior to the
North Carolina system.
Pain & Suffering.
You are not entitled to compensation for pain and suffering in a workers compensation case.
Some states require the insurance company to pay for rehabilitation services. South Carolina
If you have to travel more than 10 miles round trip to see a doctor you are entitled to be
reimbursed for mileage.
"Suing" Your Employer.
A workers' compensation claim is NOT a lawsuit against your employer. It is a claim for benefits
that the law says you are entitled to receive. Unfortunately, some employers do not see it this
way. In most cases you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer. Workers compensation will
usually be your "exclusive remedy."
Third Party Claims.
Even though you cannot sue your employer, you may, in some cases, have a separate claim
against a third party. For example, if you are driving as a part of your job and get in an accident
caused by another driver you will have a workers' compensation claim and a tort/negligence
claim against the other driver. HOWEVER, if you do not know what you are doing you could
lose your workers' compensation claim.
Other possible third party claims include products liability claims against manfucturers of
defective equipment and negligence claims against subcontractors and their employees.
Filing A Workers' Compensation Claim.
Claims must be filed with the South Carolina Workers Compensation Commission within two
years of the date of accident. There are several ways to file a claim:
--Letter to the Workers' Compensation Commission.
--Filing a Form 50 with the Workers' Compensation Commission.
--Payment of weekly compensation means your claim has been filed.
Workers' compensation claims in South Carolina are heard by Commissioners appointed by the
Governor. They tend to share the political philosophy of the man who appointed him. They do
not have to be lawyers, or have any special training, though some of them are lawyers who
formerly represented insurance companies.
Settling A Claim.
There are several ways to settle a workers' compensation claim:
--Go to a hearing and let a commissioner decide you claim.
--Clincher. A clincher is a full and final release.
Workers Compensation Offset & Social Security Disability.
It is possible to receive both workers' compensation AND Social Security disability benefits.
HOWEVER, in many cases your Social Security benefits will be reduced so long as you are
receiving workers' compensation. A bad workers' compensation settlement can sometimes cause
your future Social Security diability benefits, and your kids' benefits, to be reduced for years! A
lawyer can often help you avoid this problem.
Change of Condition.
If you go to a hearing and a commissioner awards you compensation, you have 1 year from the
date that you receive payment to file a supplemental claim (Application for Change of Condition)
seeking additional benefits. You may also file such a claim if you settled your claim on a Form 16.
In order to win your claim you must prove that your condition has undergone a change for the
worse. You normally need a doctor's support to do this.
You may not file a Change of Condition claim if you settled on a clincher.
Politicians like to refer to South Carolina as a "right to work" state. What that really means is
we are a "right to get fired for no reason and there's very little you can do about it" state.
There is a law on the books that technically makes it illegal for an employer to fire you for filing a
workers' compensation claim. Unfortunately, cases for wrongful termination are difficult to prove.
Employers who want to get rid of people can usually come up with a reason other than workers'
compensation. Do not make it easy for them! For example, always call in if you are sick. Always
give the employer copies of all work excuses ASAP. If the doctor tells you to return to work at
least give it a try.
Federal Employees (Postal Workers, Etc.)
Federal employees are covered by a totally different federal workers' compensation system.
Railroad Injuries (FELA).
Railroad employees are covered by yet another totally different compensation system.
Office located in Spartanburg, S.C. Serving all of Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina (Social Security Only)
including: Anderson, Boiling Springs, Chesnee, Chester, Clinton, Columbus, Cowpens, Duncan, Forest City, Gaffney,
Gastonia, Greenville, Greer, Hendersonville, Inman, Kings Mountain, Landrum, Laurens, Lyman, Rock Hill, Rutherfordton,
Saluda, Shelby, Spartanburg, Spindale, Tryon, Union, Wellford, Whitmire, Woodruff.