Small business owners in South Carolina must provide workers’ compensation benefits to injured employees if they employ more than four people. Most people in your position understand that. However, there is a lot more to workers’ compensation that you may not know but need to know to remain compliant. South Carolina does not consider ignorance of employment laws a justification for not following them.
Injuries Requiring Time Away from Work Are Typically Eligible for Benefits
An employee can only apply for benefits if an injury or illness occurs on the job. Common examples include machinery accidents, car accidents for employees who drive as part of their job, sprains and strains from heavy lifting, developing a chronic illness, or a slip and fall accident.
If an employee fell due to a medical condition, whether diagnosed or not, that would not be a legitimate case of a workplace injury. Other times when a workers’ compensation case may be invalid include self-inflicted injuries or injuries that occur during an off-duty event.
As an employer, you must report the incident promptly to your insurance provider to avoid any potential fines. An agent from your insurance company will investigate your employee’s claim, so reporting it as soon as possible expedites the entire process.
Employees Cannot Sue Their Employer for Workplace Injuries in Most Situations
South Carolina has a workers’ compensation program in place to help avoid thousands of individual cases taking up court resources. Because of this, employees can only sue their employer in specific circumstances. They must be able to prove that their employer intended for them to suffer an injury. Another situation where employees can sue is when the employer refuses to cooperate with the claims process or make payments as required.
What Workers’ Compensation Covers
Injured workers with approved claims receive 66 2/3 percent of the average earnings under state law. The weekly payment amount is the average amount of the employee’s pay over the past four quarters. The maximum amount of time an injured employee can receive workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina is 500 weeks, or just under 10 years. Catastrophic injuries, such as quadriplegia or a traumatic brain injury, may be eligible for lifetime compensation.
Workers’ compensation pays all eligible medical expenses if they are directly related to the injury. Medical costs may include prescription medication, surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, and physical therapy. Your insurance provider has the right to choose medical providers for the employee.
Employees who can resume working but cannot return to the same position are eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits. Travel reimbursement is another benefit of the program. As of January 1, 2024, injured workers may bill their employer’s insurance company for fuel reimbursement at the rate of 67 cents per mile. Mileage reimbursement is only available if the injured worker must travel more than five miles from home to receive medical care.
If the employee passes away from their workplace injury, even if it is months or years later, those who depended on him or her for financial support can collect a death benefit. This typically includes the cost of a funeral and burial and 2/3 of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage.
Protect Your Employees and Yourself with an Affordable Workers’ Compensation Policy
You can never be too careful when it comes to the health and safety of your employees. Whether you are taking out a workers’ compensation policy for the first time or have questions about your current policy, Compass HCM is here to help. Please contact us to schedule a time to discuss your workers’ compensation needs and learn more about our customized solutions.