How much does workers' compensation pay in SC?
Workers' compensation in SC will pay a portion of your average weekly wage if you are disabled, your medical expenses, and future medical expenses.
How do they calculate the amount of workers' compensation benefits that an injured employee is entitled to receive? Will it be enough to compensate for your lost wages while you are out of work? Will it cover your medical costs? Future medical costs?
The answers depend on several factors, including:
- The type of injury;
- Your average weekly wage;
- Your medical impairment rating;
- Your disability rating;
- The testimony of medical experts;
- The type of settlement you negotiate; and
- In many cases, whether you have an experienced SC workers' compensation attorney handling your claim for you.
Every case is different, and the details matter. If you have been injured on the job you should immediately report the injury to your employer.
Then, get a Myrtle Beach workers' compensation attorney on board to help you make your claim, prepare your medical records and medical expert's testimony, and present your case at the workers' compensation hearing if the insurance company does not settle your claim.
How Much Does Workers' Compensation Pay in SC?
How much workers' compensation will pay in SC depends on the compensation rate that is determined by your Average Weekly Wage, your medical impairment rating, your workers' compensation disability rating, and the amount and type of medical treatment that is necessary.
Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, workers' compensation will not pay you for pain and suffering, punitive damages, or other types of non-economic damages. Although workers' compensation will compensate you for lost wages if you are unable to work, it will not fully compensate you for lost wages - you will only receive a percentage of your average weekly wage and you will only receive that for a limited period of time.
What is the Average Weekly Wage?
According to SC Code Section 42-1-40, the Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is calculated by adding up your total wages for the 52 weeks prior to the injury (or the number of weeks that you worked before the injury) and dividing by 52 (or the number of weeks that you worked before the injury):
"Average weekly wages" means the earnings of the injured employee in the employment in which he was working at the time of the injury during the period of fifty-two weeks immediately preceding the date of the injury, including the subsistence allowance paid to veteran trainees by the United States Government if the amount of the allowance is reported monthly by the trainee to his employer. "Average weekly wage" must be calculated by taking the total wages paid for the last four quarters immediately preceding the quarter in which the injury occurred as reported on the Department of Employment and Workforce's Employer Contribution Reports divided by fifty-two or by the actual number of weeks for which wages were paid, whichever is less. When the employment, prior to the injury, extended over a period of less than fifty-two weeks, the method of dividing the earnings during that period by the number of weeks and parts thereof during which the employee earned wages shall be followed, as long as results fair and just to both parties will be obtained.
If you have not been on the job for very long, or if there is another reason it would not be fair to either you or your employer to use the AWW formula above, the AWW may be calculated based on what similarly situated employees make in your community:
Where, by reason of a shortness of time during which the employee has been in the employment of his employer or the casual nature or terms of his employment, it is impracticable to compute the average weekly wages as defined in this section, regard is to be had to the average weekly amount which during the fifty-two weeks previous to the injury was being earned by a person of the same grade and character employed in the same class of employment in the same locality or community.
What is the Compensation Rate?
The compensation rate is the amount of your AWW that you will be paid, subject to the minimum and maximum compensation rates.
If you suffer from total disability, the compensation rate will be 66 and two-thirds percent of your Average Weekly Wage. The minimum compensation rate is $75 per week - if you make less than that amount, you will receive the full amount.
The maximum compensation rate changes each year. In 2018, for example, it was $832.21. If you were injured in 2018 and if two-thirds of your AWW is more than $832.21, your compensation is capped at $832.21 per week.
What are Medical Impairment and Disability Ratings?
In most cases, your Average Weekly Wage is what it is - it's easily calculated and there is not a whole lot of "wiggle room."
Your medical impairment and your disability rating, however, are determined by medical testimony and can vary depending on the doctor, the part of your body that was injured, and how it will affect your ability to do your job. This is one area where your doctor's (and your lawyer's) explanation of how the injury affects your ability to work can make a difference in the amount of compensation that you receive.
Your doctor will provide a medical impairment rating that reflects the loss of mobility and strength that was caused by the injury. You will then be assigned a percentage of loss of use of the body part that was injured that should reflect how the medical impairment affects your ability to do your job.
Maximum Values for Total Loss of a Body Part
Your workers' compensation disability benefits are also limited by the type of body part that was affected. SC Code Section 42-9-30 lists specific body parts and provides a maximum number of weeks that benefits will be provided following a total loss of use of each body part.
Lose a thumb? You will get paid for no more than 65 weeks. Lose only half of your thumb? 32 and a half weeks.
The maximum benefits for each body part range from five weeks for losing half a toe to 500 weeks for body parts or organs not covered in the statute.
What Medical Expenses are Covered by Workers' Compensation in SC?
Most reasonable medical expenses should be covered by workers' compensation insurance in SC, including future medical expenses. How much does workers' compensation pay in SC for medical benefits?
Workers' Compensation Medical Benefits - Medical Expenses
In most cases, workers' compensation will pay for:
- Hospital expenses;
- Doctor's bills;
- Emergency care;
- Lab work and necessary tests;
- Physical rehabilitation; and
- Other reasonable medical expenses that are necessary for your care and treatment.
What about ongoing medical care and future treatment?
Workers' Compensation Medical Benefits - Future Medical Expenses
You may need future treatment and care after your case is settled, like:
- Physical rehab;
- Long term care;
- Medical equipment; and
- Other reasonable expenses caused by your on-the-job injuries.
If your case has already been settled, will the insurance company cover these costs?
How your attorney settles your case will make a difference here - there are different options that can be negotiated, depending on the type of injuries, the supporting medical testimony, and how you want to structure your settlement.
For example, the insurance company may agree to pay for future medical treatment up to a year after they have paid your "final" settlement. Or, we may negotiate a higher settlement amount in exchange for you paying the cost of future treatment or medical expenses.
Whether these or other options are the best answer for you will depend on the facts of your case, and this is one area where it is critical to have a solid medical opinion on what your future medical expenses are likely to be and how much of a risk you are taking if you accept a lump sum settlement in lieu of future medical costs.
How Much Does Workers' Compensation Pay in SC for Death Benefits?
The amount of benefits paid to a spouse or child following an employee's death can vary and there are a number of exceptions to the general rules - if you are seeking workers' compensation death benefits in SC, contact a SC workers' compensation attorney immediately.
That said, the general rule is that workers' compensation will pay 66 and two-thirds of the deceased employee's Average Weekly Wage for 500 weeks and up to $2500 for burial expenses.
If you are making a workers' compensation claim for an on-the-job injury or if a loved one was killed on the job, the workers' compensation insurance company will try to deny or limit your claim any way they can. Get an experienced Myrtle Beach workers' compensation lawyer on your case as soon as possible to maximize your chances of receiving full and fair compensation.