South Carolina Supreme Court Finds Reversible Error With Regard to Weekly Benefits Rate of Nightclub Employee

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Many issues can arise in a typical workers’ compensation case – disputes concerning the nature and extent of the employee’s injuries, whether the employee is able to return to work following an injury, and the amount of compensation to which the employee is entitled if he or she suffers from a permanent partial disability are all commonplace.

In a recent case that already reached the state supreme court once before (in 2015), the issue was the amount of weekly benefits to which the employee was entitled, based on her income at the time of her injury.

Facts of the Case

In the case, which was heard previously by the South Carolina Supreme Court in 2015, the plaintiff was a woman who worked as a dancer in a nightclub. She sought workers’ compensation benefits after she was shot in the abdomen by a stray bullet. The injury caused severe damage to the plaintiff’s internal organs and caused her to lose one of her kidneys. Her initial claim was defended by the South Carolina Uninsured Employer’s Fund. (Apparently, the nightclub did not have workers’ compensation insurance.) The Fund argued that the plaintiff was an independent contractor, rather than an employee. As a result, the Fund argued that the plaintiff was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Ultimately, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that the plaintiff was an employee of the nightclub and thus was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

The case was then remanded for a determination of the rate of compensation at which the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation benefits should be set. The Workers’ Compensation Commission set the plaintiff’s benefits at $75 per week, holding that there was “no evidence whatsoever” as to the amount of money that the plaintiff earned or the number of hours she worked per week. The court of appeals affirmed, and the plaintiff again appealed to the state supreme court.

Decision of the Court

The court reversed, holding that the commission’s order was devoid of any specific and detailed findings of fact to substantiate the $75 per week award. According to the court, the commission “summarily concluded” on the $75 amount without any indication of the plaintiff’s average weekly wage or how the commission went about calculating it. The court also found that the commission’s finding that the plaintiff had presented “no evidence whatsoever” of her earnings was plainly wrong. (In the previous opinion by the court, the plaintiff was reported as claiming to have earned $357 on the night of her injury and somewhere between $250 and $350 per night generally.) Accordingly, the court remanded the case to the commission for a de novo hearing on the amount of benefits to which the plaintiff was entitled.

Talk to a Seasoned South Carolina Injury Lawyer

At the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices in Spartanburg and Greenville, our helpful South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer and work injury legal team can help you understand your legal rights after an on-the-job injury. Call us at 864-582-5118 to schedule a free case evaluation.

More Blog Posts:

South Carolina Supreme Court Says Lower Tribunals Should Have Stuck to Issues Actually Raised by Employer in Workers’ Compensation Case

South Carolina Supreme Court Finds that Employee’s Testimony that He Gave Timely Notice of Injury Was Supported by Substantial Evidence