If you are injured on the job, it is likely that you are protected under South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law. Workers’ Compensation pays for medical treatment, loss of wages, and compensation for permanent disability resulting from a work related accident. It is an elaborate system that allows injured employees to recover for injuries to certain body parts and diseases contracted at work. Employees can even recover for mental injuries if certain criteria are met. Below we will touch on a few important points for you to consider.
The Workers’ Compensation law in South Carolina was just recently revised on July 1, 2007. It is a comprehensive law which changes many of the previous statutes and common law. It is particularly important to contact an attorney about your Workers’ Compensation case due to the many new standards and proofs that have to be met to successfully prevail in a Workers’ Compensation case.
If you are injured on the job you should inform you employer immediately. An employee has ninety (90) days to report the injury to their employer. Claims for Workers’ Compensation cases must be filed within two years from the date of the accident.
If an employee is unable to work for more than seven (7) days, the employee is able to be compensated at sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the employee’s average weekly wage from the 8th day out until the 14th day out. If the employee is
unable to work for more than fourteen (14) days, the employee can get compensation from the original date of accident.
If an employer claims that the injury did not happen while on the job, an employee thinks that they did not get all of their available benefits, or the employer just doesn’t report the accident, an employee can request a hearing before a Worker’s Compensation Commissioner. The hearing will usually take place in whichever county the injury occurred. An employee can also receive Worker’s Compensation benefits if they aggravate an already existing injury. If an employee aggravates an injury that they sustained while serving in the armed forces or from a previous job, then the employer will only have to compensate the employee to the extent that they would have had the previous injury not occurred.
Getting sick on the job or “occupational disease” that results in an employee not being able to work requires proof by a “preponderance of the evidence” or more likely than not that the employee actually got sick while on the job. This proof most likely has to be by a medical expert who can say to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that work caused the occupational disease.
Mental stress can also be compensated by workman’s compensation. As long as the workplace conditions were extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of the particular employment and medical evidence supports that they were the cause of the stress, a valid workman’s compensation claim exists.
In order for an aggravated mental condition to be compensable it must be; (1) admitted by the employer; (2) noted in the medical record of an authorized physician that the condition was at least in part causally related to the injury or accident; (3) found to be connected to the work related accident by an authorized psychologist or psychiatrist; (4) or noted in a medical report by the employee’s physician as stemming from the work related accident.
If you have suffered any injury or illness as a result of work, please contact the experienced attorneys at Koon Cook & Walters, LLC to help you receive all the benefits you are entitled to under the law.
Examples of Workers Compensation - Repetitive Trauma Injuries
Traditionally, worker’s compensation law has required that one individual accident which arises from and during employment is needed to have a valid worker’s compensation claim. For many years, this “injury by accident” was the only way to establish a valid claim of worker’s compensation. This is no longer true in South Carolina. South Carolina recognizes what is referred to as repetitive trauma for worker’s compensation claims.
This means that worker’s compensation focuses more on the employee’s injury rather than what actually caused the injury. A valid injury for a worker’s compensation claim requires that the particular injury suffered by the employee must have been unforeseen, not that the cause of the injury be unforeseen.
South Carolina courts have decided that an injury does not have to have occurred at a specific time to be recoverable for a worker’s compensation claim. A worker’s compensation claim for repetitive trauma must be filed no later than two years after the employee has discovered, or could have reasonably discovered, that the employee’s injury is valid for worker’s compensation purposes.
South Carolina law now demands that a worker’s compensation claim for repetitive injury be proved by a “preponderance of the evidence” meaning more likely than not it was an injury resulting from job related duties. This standard must be proved by medical evidence.
The new law concerning repetitive trauma in South Carolina (S.C. Code Ann. 42-1-172) defines repetitive trauma as “an injury that is gradual in onset and caused by the cumulative effects of repetitive traumatic events.” The new law also demands that a claimant for repetitive trauma is compensable by a “preponderance of the evidence” standard or a “more likely than not” standard decided by a commissioner.
This must be established by medical evidence or a connection between the injury and the duties of employment. Claims for repetitive trauma also must be filed within two years of when the employee knew or should have known the injury is compensable or within 7 years of the last harmful exposure. The 7 year requirement applies regardless of whether the employee knew or should have known his injury was compensable.
Since repetitive trauma claims cause more difficult issues concerning the causation of the injuries, the burden of proving that they are work related is more difficult than traditional “injury by accident claims.” The requirement of medical evidence for the establishment of repetitive trauma means that there must be expert testimony by a medical expert. The expert statement or testimony must be stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
If you think that you have been injured on the job due to repetitive trauma, call the attorneys at Koon Cook & Walters, LLC for a free consultation.