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
In a recent unreported case decided by the State of South Carolina Court of Appeals, a worker filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. The case was heard by a single commissioner, who ruled that the worker was not entitled to benefits because he did not sustain an “injury by accident” as that term is defined under South Carolina law. The worker appealed the single commissioner’s determination to a higher tribunal.
Unfortunately for the worker, the Appellate Panel of the Workers’ Compensation Commission agreed with the single commissioner’s decision and affirmed the ruling against the worker. He again appealed, seeking review from the state court of appeals.
Decision of the Court of Appeals
The appellate court affirmed the commission’s order, holding that the worker had not met his burden of proving a compensable injury. Although the court noted that the appellate panel had made “conclusory findings of fact and conclusions of law” that lacked sufficient specificity for appellate review, the court cited several previous cases in support of its decision to affirm. Among these were cases standing for the propositions that an appellate panel’s decision is to be affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence and that a reviewing court is only to disturb the panel’s decision if the claimant’s rights have been substantially prejudiced or if the panel’s ruling was clearly erroneous.
This is an unfortunate result for the worker. Not only did he fail to receive much-needed benefits for his on-the-job injury, but also the commission did not detail its findings well enough for the reviewing court to grant relief to the worker. Arguably, the court of appeals could have reversed and remanded the case to the commission with instructions to make more detailed factual findings and legal conclusions, but it chose not to do so. The worker could seek further review from the South Carolina Supreme Court, but it remains to be seen whether he will exercise this option.
Get Help with a Spartanburg or Greenville Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation cases are supposed to be “easier” than traditional tort lawsuits. This is so that an injured employee can get the benefits that he or she so desperately needs in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, “easy” workers’ compensation cases are, by far, the exception rather than the rule. To talk to an experienced South Carolina work injury lawyer about your case, call the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices at 864-582-5118 to schedule a free case evaluation.
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