Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

In a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawsuit, the employee may seek several forms of compensation: temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial or permanent total disability payments, and/or payment of medical expenses.

Some cases involving only minor injuries may be wrapped up in a reasonably timely fashion, while more complicated cases may lag on for a much longer period of time.

Unfortunately, sometimes even a relatively simple case may take a long time to resolve, especially if the employer files repeated appeals.

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Just like judges in other types of cases, South Carolina workers’ compensation commissioners are under an obligation to be fair and impartial in matters proceeding before them. If a judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned in a particular case, he or she is supposed to disqualify himself or herself from further rulings in the matter.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and it is up to the court of appeals and state supreme court to remedy matters later on. If the reviewing court determines that a judge should have granted a parties’ motion to recuse, the court has the option of reversing the decision that the judge ultimately made and remanding the case to a different judge for further proceedings.

In a case recently considered by the state supreme court, a workers’ compensation commissioner’s actions were held to be “quite simply unacceptable and offensive to the ideals of a fair and impartial judiciary.”

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Under South Carolina workers’ compensation law, a person who is hurt at work may be entitled to payment of certain benefits. These include medical care, temporary total disability, and permanent partial disability in many cases. If an employee disagrees with his or her award, there are steps that can be taken to appeal the administrative law judge’s ruling. On appeal, the employee has the burden of convincing the reviewing court that an error was made by the workers’ compensation commission.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unreported case, the plaintiff allegedly injured his left foot while working for the defendant, a temporary staffing agency. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits against the defendant and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier (also a defendant in his suit). Displeased with the holding of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission regarding his claim, the plaintiff sought review from the appellate court.

The Court’s Ruling

In his appeal to the South Carolina Court of Appeals, the plaintiff argued some 19 issues, including averments that a single commissioner had violated his rights by failing to enforce certain subpoenas, failing to accept deposition testimony, and providing insufficient notice of the review hearing. After considering each of the issues raised by the plaintiff on appeal, the court affirmed the commission’s decision. With regard to four of the issues presented by the plaintiff, the court held that the appellate panel had not erred in reviewing only the specific issue that the appeal panel ordered to be remanded at the remand hearing. As to four other additional issues raised by the plaintiff, the court of appeals determined that such issues had not been properly preserved for review by an appellate court. The court also sided with the defendants on the issue of whether the appellate panel had acted properly in refusing to extend the time for oral arguments.

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Usually, the claimant in a South Carolina workers’ compensation case is a worker who was injured on the job. The “injury” may be a result of an accident, repetitive or cumulative trauma, or even a work-related illness.

When a worker dies as a result of an accident for which he or she would otherwise be entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits, his or her surviving spouse and dependents – as those terms are specifically defined under South Carolina’s workers’ compensation statutes – may be entitled to death benefits.

Facts of the Case

If you have been hurt in a work-related accident, you may be putting off the formal filing of your South Carolina workers’ compensation claim, hoping your employer will “do the right thing” or that your injury will improve on its own. It is very important that you take action to protect your legal rights sooner, rather than later, since the process of pursuing a work injury claim can sometimes be very difficult and time-consuming, and failing to take timely action can even result in a complete bar to recovery in some cases.

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for an employer to deny a workers’ compensation claim on the grounds that the employee was not hurt in the course and scope of his or her employment, that an injury was pre-existing, or that the employee did not give timely notice of his or her injury.

As a recent case illustrates, there are many potential steps to receiving workers’ compensation benefits when an employer resists paying a claim. The sooner the injured worker files his or her claim, the sooner his or her attorney can get to work on holding the employer accountable for what is owed.

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When someone is hurt at work, he or she has the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to South Carolina law. However, there are time limits on the filing of such a claim.

Failing to assert one’s legal rights within the time allowed by law can result in the dismissal of the claim against the responsible party. Unfortunately, this is true even when the plaintiff is badly hurt and when the defendant would otherwise be held liable. It simply cannot be overstated:  time is of the essence in legal matters.

Facts of the Case

Under South Carolina workers’ compensation law, employers are supposed to purchase and maintain a policy of workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees, in case an accident or illness should happen on the job.

Of course, just as people break other rules in life, not every employer complies with the requirements placed on them under the law. Fortunately, a person who is hurt at work while on the job with an uninsured employer does have a potential remedy – the uninsured employers’ fund. (The employer does not get off scot-free, of course, but working out the details of how the employer ultimately reimburses the fund is a matter that typically does not require the injured employee’s involvement.)

Facts of the Case

Notice can be an important issue in a case involving injuries or wrongful death. While sometimes the simple act of filing a claim within the statute of limitations is all that is required, there are some kinds of cases in which other, earlier action is required.

South Carolina workers’ compensation cases, for example, require the giving of notice of an injury or accident to one’s employer within a certain time period. (Cases in which negligence is alleged against the government or a governmental employee may also have a formal notice requirement.) While it might seem like the issue of whether appropriate and timely notice was given in a particular case would be easy to resolve, this is not always so.

The Facts of the Case

Spartanburg and Greenville workers’ compensation cases are sometimes met with much resistance from the employers of those who are injured, as well as from their insurance companies.

This is unfortunate because, very often, workers’ compensation is the injured worker’s only means of obtaining much-needed medical care and temporary disability benefits. Although it is wise to consult an attorney any time you are dealing with an insurance company, this is especially true in disputed workers’ compensation cases. Quality legal representation can make all of the difference.

Facts of the Case

Those who have been hurt at work have certain legal rights, including the right to seek certain benefits like medical care and temporary disability payments from their employer (or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier).

Although the compensation available in a South Carolina workers’ compensation case is typically less than what the worker could have recovered in a traditional negligence claim, the trade-off is that the worker does not have to prove fault on the part of the employer. However, the worker does have to prove that he or she suffered a compensable injury in the course and scope of his or her employment. If the employer denies the claim, it may take months or even years for the case to be resolved.

Facts of the Case

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