In South Carolina, workers’ compensation claims vary in value. If you got hurt on the job with a minor injury, you most likely wouldn’t receive as much as someone who sustained severe injuries. However, there are certain instances where the value of your case gets affected through other factors.
The circumstances and context surrounding your accident are critical determining factors in how much your workers’ compensation case is worth in South Carolina. An attorney can explain precisely how your claim gets evaluated and what can affect how much you’ll receive in your settlement.
A General Overview of Your Workers’ Compensation Case
There are numerous factors and variables that go into the equation for determining how much your workers’ compensation case is worth under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. There are three primary ways to recover under the act.
- 42-9-10 – Total Disability
- 42-9-20 – Partial Disability (wage loss)
- 42-9-30 – Scheduled Member (no wage loss required)
So how do you know which one makes the most sense for your case? These questions should help you have a better understanding of how your case is valued:
- How much time did you miss from work?
- What kind of treatment did you receive?
- Are you able to return to work in the same capacity?
- If you have to find a new job, how much does it pay compared to your old one?
- Do you have any permanent restrictions? If so, what are they?
- Do you have disfigurement?
- Did your injury cause permanent total disability?
- What sort of future medical treatment will you require?
As every case is different, it isn’t easy to assess how much each individual case is worth. The more complex the case, the more difficult it is to value a claim.
How Do Most Workers’ Compensation Cases Resolve?
Depending on the severity of your injuries and the context of your accident, your workers’ comp claim can resolve in several ways:
- You return to your previous employment at full duty with no restrictions
- You are earning the same amount as you did before the accident
- Your case will settle based on one or more of the injuries
Section 42-9-30 of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act is called the “Schedule of Period of Disability and Compensation.” It assigns each body part a number of weeks under the Act. Once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), your authorized treating physician will then set an impairment rating for the injured body part(s) on a Form 14B.
The impairment rating is primarily a form of disability rating from which the commission will use to determine the value of your case. The doctor will assign you a rating using the AMA Guidelines. Along with a rating, the doctor also will list whether you have any restrictions and any necessary future medical care.
Calculating the Value of Your Claim
Knowing how much your South Carolina workers’ comp claim is requires calculating its value. Example: You tripped over a pallet at work and broke your arm. You required a cast for a few weeks, underwent physical therapy without surgery, and returned to work. Your doctor assigns a 3% impairment rating to your arm with no restrictions and no future medical care.
The workers’ compensation insurance adjuster offers to settle the case for 5% to the arm. The entire arm is worth 220 weeks of benefits, and your average weekly wage is $600, which corresponds to a Compensation Rate of $400.02 ($600 x .6667 = $400.02). So what is your settlement offer worth?
5% x 220 x $400.02 = $4,400.22
This seems like quite a low settlement offer, mainly due to the impairment ratings given under the AMA Guidelines. Many employers are starting to force doctors to utilize the AMA 6th Edition, which can significantly reduce the value of your claim compared to AMA 5th Edition. Using just these guidelines alone will considerably reduce the value of a workers’ compensation claim.
Never Accept the Initial Settlement Offer
Your employer and their insurance company aren’t on your side. They want to protect their bottom line and minimize the chances of paying a big settlement. While you can opt to take their settlement quickly, you’d be getting much less in compensation than what your damages genuinely are.
Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation Claims
The value of your workers’ comp claim is also dependent on the time in which you file. In South Carolina, you only have two years to file before you lose your right to pursue financial compensation for your damages. If you let the statute of limitations expire, your workers’ compensation case will be worth nothing.
Don’t Get Cheated Out of a Fair Settlement
You should call an attorney for workers’ compensation in South Carolina as soon as possible. Each work injury is different, and there is no clear-cut way to ensure you get the full benefits you deserve. An attorney can put a value on how much your SC workers’ comp claim can get you.
At the very least, you don’t want an insurance company or your employer to cheat you out of a fair settlement. An attorney well-versed in South Carolina workers’ compensation law will have a much higher success rate in getting clients the benefits they deserve.
Get In Touch With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Many people are adamant that they do not need an attorney and can handle their claim themselves. But this is one of the most common mistakes victims make. If you don’t have any prior legal knowledge or experience, this only puts you at a disadvantage.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is ultimately the best option to get you the benefits you deserve. For the best settlement possible, you should contact an accomplished, dedicated lawyer today.