When an injured worker files a South Carolina workers’ compensation claim, he or she may be entitled to several kinds of benefits. These benefits may include paid medical care, temporary total disability, and/or permanent partial or permanent total disability payments.
The amount of money that the claimant ultimately receives is based in part upon his or her average weekly wage at the time of the accident or illness giving rise to the claim for benefits. Once a determination has been made that the worker is, in fact, entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, the worker may seek a lump sum payment of part (or all) of the benefits that the employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier is ordered to pay.
He or she is not automatically entitled to a lump sum payout, and such a request may be met with great resistance.
Facts of the Case
In a recent unreported case, the original claimant was a man who was injured on the job. He was awarded workers’ compensation benefits, but his requests for a partial lump sum payment and for an adjustment of his weekly wage and compensation rate were denied by the Appellate Panel of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. The claimant appealed the commission’s order but passed away (at age 47) while the appeal was pending. Thereafter, the claimant’s estate was substituted as plaintiff.
Decision of the Court
The South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the commission’s ruling, first holding that the commission did not err in considering medical evidence in determining Claimant’s life expectancy. In so holding, the court pointed out prior case law to the effect that an appellate court is empowered to review the allowance of a lump sum settlement made over an employer or carrier’s objection in situations in which a claimant’s disability is such that there is a serious question presented regarding the likelihood that the employee may pass away before the length of time that would have been required to make regular installment payments. The court also found that the commission was acting within its discretion in finding that a second lump sum payment was not in the best interests of the claimant or his dependents.
With respect to the claimant’s compensation rate, the court agreed with the commission that it was appropriate to refuse the claimant’s request for an increase, noting that it is only situations in which a claimant’s substantial rights have been prejudiced that an appellate court may reverse the commission’s decision regarding calculation of wages.
Schedule a Consultation with a South Carolina Injury Attorney
There are many issues that must be considered in a typical workers’ compensation case. A claimant should have a strong legal advocate looking out for his or her interests as decisions about these issues are being made. At the Patrick E. Knie Law Offices in Spartanburg and Greenville, we represent injured workers as they seek the full South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled under the law. If you or a loved one has been hurt at work, we will be glad to schedule a consultation with you, free of charge. Just call us at 864-582-5118 to set up an appointment.
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