The familiar adage “time is of the essence” is never more true than in a court of law. Consequently, if you have been hurt in an accident, it is important to contact an attorney about your case as soon as possible. This is because, regardless of the merits of your potential lawsuit, the failure to file your case within the time afforded by law usually means there can be no recovery.
Strict deadlines also apply to other procedural matters, such as the time allowed for filing an appeal. Recently, the state’s highest court was called upon to determine whether the usual time requirements for appealing a worker’s compensation decision could be extended in a particular case.
Recently, in the case of Rhame v. Charleston County School District, the issue was whether an appellate panel of the workers’ compensation commission had the authority to entertain a motion for a rehearing. This was an important question because, if the panel lacked such authority, an appeal filed by one of the parties outside the normal 30-day deadline would have been considered untimely.
The Procedural History of the Case
A worker filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. A single commissioner found that the claim was compensable, but the employer sought review from the appellate panel of the commission. The panel reversed and denied the worker’s claim. The worker filed a motion for a rehearing before the panel. The panel denied the motion, and the worker appealed the case to the court of appeals.
The court of appeals dismissed the worker’s appeal because it was made more than 30 days after the panel’s initial denial of the worker’s claim. In so holding, the court of appeals held that a motion for rehearing is not permitted before the commission on review of a decision from a single commissioner. The state supreme court granted the worker’s petition for a writ of certiorari.
The South Carolina Supreme Court’s Ruling
The supreme court reversed the court of appeals’ decision, holding that the worker’s motion for a rehearing before the appellate panel was proper and that such motion stayed the time for serving a notice of appeal. This meant that the worker had 30 days from his receipt of the panels’ decision denying his motion for a rehearing to file his appeal. Since he had filed his appeal within this time period, his appeal was deemed timely. Accordingly, the supreme court remanded the case to the court of appeals, directing it to consider the worker’s appeal on its merits.
To Speak to Someone about Your Case
As the foregoing case illustrates, deadlines can be critically important in a lawsuit. A successful recovery in a workers’ compensation or other personal injury case is highly dependent upon complying with these deadlines and other procedural rules. Attorney Patrick E. Knie has been assisting injured South Carolinians for many years, and he can help you as you pursue compensation from your employer or a third party who contributed to your accident. To schedule an appointment at either our Spartanburg or Greenville office, call 864-582-5118.
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