A new policy that affects employees of the North Carolina Winston-Salem and Forsyth County school systems has just taken effect—one that drastically cuts workers’ compensation benefits from however long the employee is injured but still on the payroll to just one year. Under the old policy, 26 district employees were receiving workers’ compensation benefits for over a year and one employee had been out of the job for over a decade.
Workers’ Compensation Timetable in South Carolina
Under South Carolina’s workers’ compensation law, an employee must report a workplace injury to the his employer as soon as possible and within a 90 period or risk losing out on benefits. Although the employee only has 90 days to report the injury to his employer, the employee has up to two years to file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Commission for benefits.
As an example, Chef is employed as a line cook at Boss BBQ. On Day 1, Chef turns on the stove and it explodes due to a faulty wiring. Chef is severely injured and waits until Day 90 to file a report to Boss BBQ.. Chef can still file a workers’ compensation claim a year after the injury because he reported the injury to his employer within the 90-day period. But if Chef does not file his claim for benefits within two years of the injury, then Chef will not be able to file his claim, despite having reported the injury within 90 days of the occurrence.
Supposing Chef files his claim within the two-year period but his employer does not pay him temporary disability payments despite his having not yet been cleared by a doctor to return to work, Chef can request a hearing with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. A hearing is usually granted within 60 days of filing. It would be wise for Chef to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before the hearing to make sure that everything is well understood and in order.
If the commission finds that Chef is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, there is still a seven-day waiting period before benefits can be paid. If Chef has been out of work for more than seven days then the payment will come from Boss BBQ’s insurance representative. If Chef has been out of work for more than 14 days, then Chef will also be compensated for the first seven days. Chef will directly receive the workers’ compensation payment until the doctor clears Chef to go back to work.
If the doctor clears Chef to return to work within 150 days of the accident, Chef should receive two copies of Form 15 with Section II filled out with the reasons why Chef’s workers’ compensation benefits have stopped. However, Chef and other employees may disagree or have other legitimate reasons for not being able to go back to work as ordered. It would be wise for an employee to consult with an experienced labor attorney regarding workers’ compensation claims. After all, missing a filing deadline can be just as bad as a fire in the kitchen.
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.