South Carolina Appeals Court Holds that No Sanctions Were Warranted Against Employer in Workers’ Compensation Case

Under South Carolina law, a person who is injured in the course and scope of his or her employment may file a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits, such as temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, and medical benefits.

If a claim is denied by the employer’s insurance company, the injured worker may request a hearing before a workers’ compensation commissioner. If he or she is dissatisfied with the commissioner’s decision, an appeal may be taken to an appellate panel of the full commission.

Further appeals, including proceedings in the court system, are also possible.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unreported decision arising from a lawsuit filed in Richland County, South Carolina, the plaintiff was an employee who sought to recover certain workers’ compensation benefits from the defendant employer. An appellate panel of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission decided not to impose sanctions on the defendant for its alleged failure to pay certain benefits to the employee, and the circuit court affirmed that decision. The employee filed a further appeal.

Decision of the South Carolina Court of Appeals

The court affirmed the lower court’s decision agreeing with the appellate panel that sanctions should not be imposed on the defendant under the circumstances of the case. Although the plaintiff insisted that the defendant should be sanctioned for withholding temporary total disability benefits, the appellate court could not say that the appellate panel’s decision was “unsupported by substantial evidence” or based on an error of law. The court pointed out that, although the defendant did not begin paying disability benefits immediately after the plaintiff’s accident, the plain language of the statute (South Carolina Code Annotated § 42-9-260) indicates that there is no such requirement. In so holding, the court noted that the defendant did ultimately pay the benefits that it owed to the plaintiff, and its delay in doing so likely resulted from an earlier appeal and confusion about whether that appeal stayed the payment of the benefits in question.

With regard to the plaintiff’s alternative argument that the defendant should have had sanctions imposed upon it for its alleged failure to pay certain authorized medical bills, the court stated that it could not rule on this issue because the plaintiff had failed to properly preserve the issue for appeal. (Under South Carolina law, an issue that is not specifically ruled upon by the lower court is generally deemed to be unreviewable on appeal.)

Get Legal Assistance with a Work Injury Claim

If you need help filing a work-related injury claim, knowledgeable South Carolina work injury attorney Patrick E. Knie can help. Call us at (864) 582-5118 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case. You should be mindful that workers’ compensation claims, like all personal injury claims, are subject to certain timelines, and a delay in filing can result in the dismissal of an otherwise valid case.

Related Blog Posts:

South Carolina Court of Appeals Finds That Worker Was Not Entitled to Medical Benefits for Compensable Work Injury

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission Erred in Requiring Injured Worker to Establish Change of Condition by Objective Evidence

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