Benefits and Limitations of Workers’ Compensation

Most South Carolina employees who suffer injuries in the course of their employment–and arising out of their employment–are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. However, unless they’ve already been in this situation, most people aren’t sure what workers’ compensation programs have to offer.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission lists 6 primary goals of workers’ compensation programs. Among them are:

  • to ensure that people who are injured in work-related accidents receive prompt payment for needed medical treatment, as well as prompt payment of a reasonable amount of money to replace their wages if they are unable to return to work for some time (if litigation was the only way to obtain compensation, the workers might have to wait for years before getting the opportunity to even argue for payment);
  • to reduce all the various costs and delays associated with trials and litigation in general;
  • to promote workplace safety–which, under the workers’ compensation system, is in the best interest of both employers and employees.

In exchange for the assurance of timely payments, injured workers face certain limitations: for example, under workers’ compensation rules, they cannot recover financial compensation for pain and suffering. In addition, the law imposes various limitations on the amount of money that workers can receive in disability payments.

However, not every accident falls neatly within the parameters established by laws, regulations, and prior cases. In some situations, for example, an employer may argue that at the time of the accident the employee was “coming to or going from” the place of employment, rather than acting “in the course of employment”–in which case the employee would not be covered by workers’ compensation. Or an employer may deny that an injury arose out of activities done on the employer’s behalf. When a work-related injury involves such gray areas, the promise of prompt and certain payment for injuries is replaced by a process that may take more time, more investigation and negotiation, as well as contested hearings, if necessary.

The attorneys at Lee & Smith serve clients in numerous locations throughout South Carolina. For a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation case, please contact us by phone or email.

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