If you have been injured in a work-related accident in the state of South Carolina, you may be eligible for disability benefits. These benefits, paid out by an employer’s insurance carrier in lieu of a paycheck while an employee is unable to work, are typically paid out on a weekly basis. The amount is generally two-thirds of the injured employee’s average gross weekly income across the one-year period prior to the date of the injury.
The Importance of Disability Benefits
Disability benefits were a huge victory for South Carolina’s workers at the time when the workers’ compensation system was put in place. Like a substitute paycheck, these benefits ensure that an injured employee remains able to cover food, rent, and transportation costs while unable to work. In the pre-workers’ compensation era, a workplace injury could devastate an employee financially. Instead of receiving benefits right away, to recover compensation for a workplace injury and its consequences, an employee would have to sue his or her employer for damages in court. There, the employee had the burden of proof to prove the injury was the result of negligence on the part of the employer. This process could be costly, time-consuming, and was by no means certain to yield a financial recovery. During this time, an injury could go untreated, leaving the injured employee both unable to work and unable to provide his or her family with life’s daily necessities. This state of affairs was tragic for the employee, and also bad for America’s economy because it slowed the rate at which employees could get back to work and contribute to the economy as both a laborer and consumer. Clearly, the disability benefits provided under South Carolina’s workers’ compensation system were a much needed reform that have helped to keep injured workers financially afloat while recovering from an injury.
How Long Do Disability Benefits Last?
Temporary disability benefits will be paid out by an employer’s insurance carrier until either a doctor concludes that the employee has made the maximum medical improvement possible or the employee returns to work. Importantly, an employee’s return to work need not be in the same extent and capacity as prior to the injury. This rule can lead to some problematic outcomes, such as when it might be more financially advantageous for an employee to continue receiving disability benefits than to return to work in a capacity diminished enough to reduce salary to an amount less than disability benefits. Obviously, employers are sensitive to this scenario, and are incentivized to seek a conclusion of maximum medical improvement from a recovered employee’s physician. In addition, when an employee is released from treatment at maximum medical improvement, he may be entitled to additional permanent disability payments for his injury, according to the extent of his disability and for the time period set forth by statute or regulation for his specific injury or injuries.
South Carolina’s workers’ compensation system is complex and has been in place for nearly 80 years. To navigate it correctly and thereby receive the full benefits you may be entitled to, contact an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney will explain your rights and work to obtain the compensation you need and deserve for your health and security.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.