Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are The Exclusive Remedy For Work-Related Injuries In South Carolina

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In South Carolina, workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for an injury one has suffered during a workplace injury.  Thus, the a hearing before the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Commission, rather than the courtroom, is the appropriate forum for recovery.

History of Workers’ Compensation

The reasons for this reality are rooted in South Carolina’s history.  More than a century ago in the post-Civil War era known as Reconstruction, the Industrial Revolution had crossed the Atlantic from England and changed America’s means of production and labor force forever.  Machinery of a scale and speed never seen before increased the flow of products entering the marketplace.  While the capabilities of new machinery were awesome, so too was its destructive power – especially in an age with few health and safety regulations.  Gruesome workplace injuries and deaths were all too common, and the impact was felt by employees, employers, and the American economy. 

For the employee who was rendered unable to work by an accident, or the family who experienced the tragic loss of a provider, there was financial devastation.  While the injured employee or the family of a fatally injured employee could sue the employer in court, this process was costly, time-consuming, and hardly certain to yield a financial recovery.  Of course, during the course of a lawsuit, an injured employee or bereaved family might be unable to stay afloat financially or work in the absence of a recovery aided by medical treatment.  For the employer, a successful suit by an injured employee or grieving family might result in jury award of damages so costly as to jeopardize the business entirely. 

For the American people and economy, the slow legal process of determining the existence or absence of negligence on the part of an employer with regard to a workplace injury kept workers from getting back to work as quickly as possible, and put businesses in jeopardy – two consequences at odds with economic growth.  The workers’ compensation system was therefore put in place to better protect employees, employers, and the American economy.

No-Fault Law in South Carolina

For employees, there is South Carolina’s “no-fault” workers’ compensation law that requires only that employees prove they were working at the time of an accident (instead of proving employer negligence in court).  For the employer, the workers’ compensation system is an injured employee’s exclusive remedy – employees must seek compensation through the employer’s insurance carrier rather than in court.  This protects employers from potentially crippling civil jury awards.  Finally, the American economy benefits when workers are able to get the medical and disability benefits they need to return to the labor force, and when employers are in a stronger position with regard to stable growth. 

If you have been injured in a workplace accident in the state of South Carolina, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today.  The system is complex, and an attorney will work to get the full compensation you are entitled to.

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