How Much Is a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim Worth
Workers’ compensation benefits are based on what is called a worker’s average weekly wage. In most cases, a worker’s earning for the prior year are divided by 52 but there are special rules that can apply if the workers has not worked a full year or has just competed education or job training that entitle them to a raise. Some workers’ work more than one job and the wages from both jobs are added together. Once a worker’s average weekly wage is determined it is multiplied by 2/3 to come up with the workers’ compensation rate. This is the weekly amount the worker is entitled to receive subject to a minimum comp rate of $75.00 per week and a maximum comp rate set every year. In 2019 the maximum comp rate will be $845.74.
While an injured worker is temporarily totally disabled following an injury, they are entitled to receive a weekly benefit equal to their compensation rate. Once the worker has reached what is called “maximum medical improvement” they are entitled to an award for any permanent disability they have suffered.
If their injury is limited to what is called a “scheduled member,” then they are entitled to an award based on the member injured and amount of loss or loss of use they have suffered. The scheduled members are found in Section 42-9-30 of the S.C. Code. Some examples of the schedule awards are:
- Thumb – 65 weeks
- Index Finger – 40 weeks
- Pinky finger – 20 weeks
- Big Toe – 35 weeks
- Any Other Toe – 10 weeks
- Hand – 185 weeks
- Foot – 140 weeks
- Eye – 140 weeks
Injuries to the back and the compensation awarded obey a special rule. If you lose less then 50 percent of your back you are entitled to compensation based on 300 weeks, but if your lose more than 50 percent of your back you are entitled to compensation based upon 500 weeks with a presumption you have suffered total and permanent disability. Compensation for body parts or organs not included in the schedule are provided for in Regulation 67-1101 and for hearing loss in Regulation 67-1102.
To determine how much an injury to the hand is worth, you determine the workers compensation rate, then multiply the number of weeks allowed for the total loss of the hand times the percentage loss to determine the award. For example, assuming a worker has a $500 compensation rate, then a 25 percent loss of the hand would be worth (185 × 25% × $500) or $23,125.
If the injury is not confined to a single scheduled member, for example, when a worker injures both arms or an arm and a leg, or the injury to back affects the use of the legs, then the worker is not limited to the scheduled award and can claim total or partial disability under Sections 42-9-10 or 42-9-20 of the S.C. Code. In the case of total disability the injured worker is entitled to receive compensation benefits for 500 weeks, except in cases of quadriplegia, paraplegia or physical brain damage, in which cases they are entitled to lifetime benefits. If the case of a partial disability an injured worker is entitled to receive compensation benefits equal to 2/3 of the difference between their pre injury and post injury wages for 340 weeks.
As you can tell, the question of how much a worker’s compensation case is worth is pretty complicated. The workers’ compensation insurance company can fail to properly calculate the amount of a person’s “average weekly wage” and compensation rate. They can dispute when you have reached “maximum medical improvement” and the extent of any permanent loss, loss of use, or disability you have suffered. They can claim your injury is limited to a “scheduled member” and deny you are entitled to total or partial disability benefits. Our founder Irving Steinberg helped write the first South Carolina Workers’ Compensation act in 1936 and we have been representing injured workers ever since. We have fought to expand and protect worker’s rights in our Courts. If you are injured at work, the best thing to do is to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Steinberg Law Firm. We will help get the benefits you deserve. Give us a call. There is no downside because the initial consultation is free.