A guide to workers’ comp for employers and employees in South Carolina
If you experience an injury or illness at work in South Carolina, you’re likely wondering: Am I eligible for workers’ comp benefits, and how much are they worth?
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation insurance provides certain benefits to workers if they’re injured on the job or become ill as a result of their working conditions or environment. But many workers don’t find out until it’s too late if their employer carries workers’ compensation insurance and if they’re eligible for benefits after an injury or illness.
This article will explain workers’ compensation requirements in South Carolina to help you understand when employers are required to purchase insurance, who is eligible for workers’ compensation, and what factors affect your ability to receive workers’ comp benefits.
Which employers need to provide workers’ comp insurance in South Carolina?
Fortunately, most employers in South Carolina are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event that an employee is injured while working. In fact, South Carolina law requires any employer with 4 or more full- or part-time employees to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance coverage. However, there are some notable exceptions. They include:
- Employees who don’t work regular hours or only work on an “as needed” basis
- Employees working in the railroad or agriculture industry
- Licensed real estate agents who work for a broker
- State federal employees
- Employers who paid out less than $3,000 in payroll the previous year
Freelancers and other independent contractors usually aren’t considered employees in South Carolina, which means they typically aren’t covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, some employers have been known to falsely classify workers as independent contractors to avoid providing them with workers’ comp benefits after an injury.
If you’re injured at work and you believe you’ve been misclassified as an independent contractor by your employer, you should consult an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can help determine your eligibility and explain your rights.
Some employers and insurance companies try to delay the compensation process or offer you a settlement that is far less than you deserve. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the process so your rights are protected.
How do I know if my injury or illness is covered under my employer’s workers’ comp insurance?
In South Carolina, the workers’ comp program is a no-fault system. This means that eligible workers don’t need to prove their employer is at fault for their illness or injury, only that their illness or injury happened at work or while they were performing their work duties.
Additionally, South Carolina workers’ comp covers both traumatic injuries and occupational illnesses:
- Traumatic injuries, like a slip-and-fall accident, are injuries that result from a one-time accident.
- Occupational illnesses, like carpal tunnel syndrome or certain lung diseases, develop over time from repetitive work duties or exposure to certain conditions in your work environment.
What if I was off-site when my injury occurred?
Some employees’ jobs require them to travel or leave their office or work site during their shift to work off-location. Other employees have transportation or delivery jobs that require them to be on the road.
Fortunately, in most instances, if you’re injured while performing work for your employer, you can obtain workers’ compensation benefits whether you’re on your physical work property or not.
A common example is being involved in a car accident while you’re driving from your place of employment to a location where another job will be performed. As long as you’re traveling for work, any injuries sustained from the accident will typically be covered.
If you’re injured off of your work premises, it’s always in your best interest to seek assistance from a workers’ comp attorney who can advise you as to whether your injury or illness is work-related so that you can take the necessary steps to file a claim and receive compensation.
So when is an illness or injury not covered?
Even if your injury occurred at work or while you were performing work duties, it won’t be covered if you:
- Were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the injury occurred
- Intentionally hurt yourself
Other injuries or illnesses not covered by workers’ comp are those that happen at work but would have happened regardless of your location, such as a stroke that results from high blood pressure.
How long do I have to file a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina to be eligible for benefits?
South Carolina workers’ comp laws state that an employee must alert their employer within 90 days of being injured or becoming ill as a result of their working conditions.
It’s always best to file a claim as soon as possible after any illness or injury instead of waiting to see if you get better or if the injury resolves on its own, as waiting can delay the overall process and make it more difficult to start receiving benefits.
How do I start a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina?
The first step to filing a workers’ comp claim is to notify your employer. Your employer is then required by law to file a claim on your behalf with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
If your employer fails or refuses to file your claim, you can file the claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission yourself. However, it’s often best to contact an attorney to help you with the process at that point, as it’s likely your employer may try to discredit your claim.
Let the experienced workers’ comp attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. help with your claim
Experience matters when it comes to complicated legal issues like workers’ compensation. While you might be tempted to handle your workers’ comp claim without legal help, your chances of getting the full compensation you’re entitled to are far less without an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
If you live in South Carolina and would like help with your workers’ compensation case, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. Our firm has more than 30 years of experience fighting for workers in South Carolina. We’ve recovered over 300 million dollars for our more than 9,000 satisfied clients, and we’d love the opportunity to help you as well.