Workers' Compensation Act
The Workers' Compensation Act in South Carolina states if an employee suffers injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, that individual is entitled to recover medical expenses, temporary total compensation, and specifically permanent and total disability benefits.
Under the current law, your employer has the right to select the doctor who will treat you. If you see your doctor without permission of the employer, he or she may not be held liable for the medical expense, unless it constitutes an emergency condition. However, you have the right to choose a physician to evaluate you for the specific disability you may have.
Once you suffer an injury on the job, you should immediately report it to your supervisor. You should also request the employer take responsibility for the appropriate medical treatment. In the event the claim is denied, you can attempt to handle the case yourself or hire our experienced attorney.
If the claim continues to be contested, your lawyer should file a Form 50 on your behalf with the Workers' Compensation Commission. This sets out the various parties, the date and description of the accident, who you reported it to, the injuries suffered, whether medical treatment is needed, any disfigurements that occurred, and any other relief you are requesting.
The employer, unless self-insured, is usually represented by an insurance company known as the carrier. The carrier files an answer on Form 51, where they may admit or deny what you have said in your Form 50. The case is then placed on the Workers' Compensation Commission's docket and assigned to an individual commissioner who acts as a fact finder and also rules on the law.
A hearing is usually held within 4 to 6 months, and this is when the employee presents their case. Medical testimony is usually presented in the form of a deposition, but the doctors sometimes testify personally at the hearing.
Once a commissioner has ruled on the case, he will issue an opinion and award which sets forth his ruling of fact and law, and what relief, if any, the employee receives. If either party is dissatisfied with the decision, the case is eligible for appeal to the full commission, which is made up of all the Workers' Compensation Commissioners except for the one who heard the case originally. After that hearing is held, if either party is dissatisfied with the decision, it can be appealed to the Circuit Court and on up to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Once the case has been decided by the full commission, it is rarely appealed to the courts. The fault is not an issue regarding the payment of a claim unless, for example, the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury. Remember, if you are injured on the job report the incident to your supervisor and call Gibson Law Firm LLC.