Even if you are fired from your job, you can still collect workers’ compensation in South Carolina. Nothing in the statutes bars you from receiving the damages you are owed for your injuries if you lose your job.
Your employer must continue to pay your temporary workers’ compensation benefits until the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) gives the approval for them to terminate your benefits if it has been more than 150 days since giving notice of your accident.
Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina Explained
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that covers employees injured on the job, including certain occupational diseases. The benefits you receive from workers’ compensation include:
- Medical care
- Payment of medical expenses
- Compensation for lost wages
- Damages for certain disabilities
Your benefits are provided by your employer’s insurance carrier and overseen by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. A doctor chosen by your employer will provide your medical treatment. You have the right to seek medical care outside of the employer’s selected physician, but your expenses will not be covered.
Reporting Your Injury and Filing a Claim
Before you can collect your workers’ compensation benefits, you have to report your injury to your employer within 90 days of the accident or incident, per S.C. Code § 42-15-20.
After that point, you have two years to file for workers’ compensation. Typically, your employer will file a report with their insurance carrier to initiate a claim on your behalf. If your employer does not submit your claim, denies it, or reduces your benefits below what you believe you should receive, you can file a Form 50 or 52 with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to correct the situation.
For a free legal consultation, call 864-740-8653
When will My Workers’ Compensation Benefits Stop?
You can receive up to 500 weeks of benefits for total disability, i.e., a disability that keeps you out of work. For partial disability or injury that allows you to work with reduced capacity, you can get up to 340 weeks of payments.
There are slightly different rules for suspension or termination of workers’ compensation benefits depending on whether or not 150 days have passed since you gave your employer notice of your accident.
Within 150 Days from Notification of the Accident
Before 150 days have passed, your employer (or previous employer, if you were fired) can suspend or terminate your benefits immediately if any of the following occurs:
- You return to work
- You agree you are able to return to work and sign the proper forms
- A fair investigation by your employer reveals your benefits should be denied or stopped
- Your treating physician releases you back to work without restrictions and your employer offers comparable employment
- Your treating physician releases you to limited duty work and your employer offers fitting employment
- You refuse medical treatment, examination, or evaluation
If you return to work but cannot work a minimum of 15 days, your benefits must resume right away.
More Than 150 Days After Notifying of Injury
Your temporary benefits are to continue until your doctor indicates that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Maximum medical improvement is when your physical condition is not likely to get any better with or without further medical treatment. Basically, you’re as good as you’re going to get.
Once you reach MMI, your physician will do one of three things:
- Release you to work with no restrictions.
- Assign you an impairment rating but declare you able to work.
- Assign you an impairment rating but declare you unable to work.
If you reach MMI and are given an impairment rating, it means you have a permanent disability. The SCWCC will determine what permanent disability award you are entitled to receive thereafter.
Terminating Your Temporary Benefits
If it has been more than 150 days since you notified your employer of your injury, at any point after you reach maximum medical improvement your employer can submit a request with the SCWCC for a hearing to terminate your temporary benefits. Under no circumstances can your benefits be terminated without approval from the commission.
If your benefits are stopped before the commission’s approval, the employer is subject to a 25% penalty on the amount of benefits withheld. Further, the commission will not even entertain a request for a hearing to terminate benefits if your employer is behind on payments to you. All of this applies even if you were fired from your job while collecting workers’ compensation. If your benefits were cut off prematurely, an attorney can help.
Settling Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
After you are reported at maximum medical improvement, you and your employer can settle your claim. You can work out an agreement about what further benefits if any, will be given. Having expert legal representation throughout your time on worker’s compensation can help ensure that you are treated fairly and receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to after your injury.
Click to contact our personal injury lawyers today
You Can’t be Fired for Filing for Workers’ Compensation
While you can still collect benefits after being fired, the unfortunate fact is you can be fired after suffering a work-related injury and starting workers’ compensation. However, it is not legal to be fired because you reported an injury and/or filed for workers’ compensation. That is considered retaliation, and it is illegal.
A South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer at our firm can help you obtain justice if you were unduly fired for seeking workers’ compensation. Possible resolutions could include being reinstated on your job or other fair monetary compensation in a civil suit.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Hammack Law Firm will Fight for Your Compensation
It may be hard to stand up to your employer and their insurance company on your own. Contact Hammack Law Firm for help today at (864) 326-3333. Our South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can assist you with your claim on your road to recovery.