Filing deadlines you need to know so you don’t miss your chance to be compensated after a work injury
A statute of limitation restricts the time a person can take legal action against another party after an accident or injury. For injured workers, failing to file a claim within the allowed time means that you forfeit your legal right to receive workers’ comp benefits.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated and time-consuming, and many workers opt not to file for compensation because they’re afraid to lose their jobs because of employer retaliation—but this should never be the case.
Am I eligible for workers comp benefits?
Workers’ compensation laws were designed to protect workers. In South Carolina, any business with 4 or more employees is required to carry workers’ comp insurance to cover their workers’ expenses if they’re injured on the job, including:
- Medical benefits to cover all medical expenses, including doctor’s visits, surgeries, medications, artificial members, etc.
- Wage loss benefits, which are generally two-thirds of your average weekly salary
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits
- Disability benefits
- Death benefits to be paid to the spouse or eligible dependents of the deceased
Since the workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, you do not need to prove your employer was at fault for your injury in order to receive compensation.
But the law does require you to adhere to specific filing procedures and deadlines in order to be eligible for compensation. We’ll discuss the details of these procedures and deadlines below.
What is the statute of limitations for South Carolina workers’ comp?
Every state has its own rules with regard to workers’ compensation. In South Carolina, you generally have 2 years from the date of your injury to file a workers’ comp claim. If you don’t file your claim within those 2 years, you automatically lose your right to receive benefits.
Because workers’ comp cases can be complicated, it’s recommended that you begin the process of filing a claim well in advance of the 2-year deadline.
Additionally, you only have a maximum of 90 days after your injury or illness to report it to your employer. With few exceptions, failure to notify your employer within this timeframe will prevent you from receiving workers’ comp benefits.
In order to ensure your chance at compensation, the following steps should be taken as soon as possible following any work accident in South Carolina:
- Report the injury to your employer in writing.
- Seek medical attention so your injuries can be appropriately documented and linked to your work accident.
- Keep all follow-up appointments with the doctor and follow the doctor’s orders and restrictions in order to remain eligible for benefits.
- File all necessary forms and paperwork.
- Contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney if your claim is denied.
Are there any exceptions to the 2-year statute of limitations?
Although it’s safest to adhere to the 2-year filing deadline, there are certain situations where that deadline may be extended. Below are some of the potential exceptions to the 2-year workers’ comp statute of limitations.
When a worker is severely injured and dies as a result of their accident, South Carolina’s workers’ compensation law doesn’t require loved ones of the victim to notify the employer immediately or within 90 days of the incident. Instead, the law allows the spouse and any eligible dependents 2 years to report the accident to the employer to receive death benefits, funeral benefits and other compensation.
It’s important to bear in mind that not all fatalities will automatically qualify for this exception. You should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to learn whether you qualify for this exception.
Occupational disease claims
For exposures such as lead poisoning, radiation, asbestos and other incidents of “occupational diseases,” South Carolina law also allows exceptions to the general statute of limitations. In such circumstances, the clock doesn’t start to tick until the victim has been diagnosed and informed of the injury or illness.
Once the worker receives an official diagnosis, the same 2-year statute of limitations is applied to their case from the date the illness was diagnosed.
While rare, if it can be proved that an employer wrongfully blocked you from filing a claim within the two-year period (by deliberately lying to you about the process or providing “fake forms”), the normal statute of limitations may not apply to your case.
Tolling statute of limitations
There are certain limited circumstances where the statute of limitations may be tolled:
- Minors. If the injured worker is below the legal adulthood age of 18, the law postpones or tolls the statute of limitation until the victim reaches legal age.
- Mental/cognitive disability. A person may not be able to assert a claim or notify the employer about their injury because of a mental incapacity or cognitive injury. In such cases, the statute of limitations may be postponed or tolled until a time when the person is deemed mentally capable.
If you already filed a claim and received compensation, but your condition is worsening, you may be entitled to additional compensation, but you must file the necessary paperwork within 1 year of your last benefit payment to be eligible. Speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to find out if this is an option in your case.
When to contact a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney
Workers’ compensation cases can be complicated, and legitimate claims are denied for a variety of reasons every single day. An experienced attorney can work with you to build a case based on the available evidence to prove your injury claim. They’ll also handle all communications and negotiations with your employer and their insurance company so you can focus on recovering from your injury.
If you’ve been injured on the job in South Carolina, contact the experienced workers’ comp attorneys at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured workers across the state of South Carolina, and we’d love the opportunity to help you, too. Contact us today for a free consultation of your case.