From repetitive motion injuries that develop slowly to workplace incidents that result in catastrophic harm, employees in many industries may find that their job puts their own health at risk. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that, in the private sector alone, there were 2.8 million reported occupational illnesses and injuries in 2018.
With only a few exceptions, South Carolina law requires businesses with four or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect workers in the event of a job-related injury. In addition to coverage for the cost of medical care, workers’ comp may entitle an injured employee to payment for a portion of lost wages.
Coverage for medical treatment
Workers’ compensation covers all medical expenses for treatments that are necessary for an employee’s recovery. This may include hospitalization, surgery, prescriptions, medical supplies or prosthetic devices.
However, in order to receive medical benefits, an injured worker must go to a doctor approved by his or her employer or insurance representative. Additionally, if an employee needs to travel more than 10 miles round-trip to receive care or visit a pharmacy, workers’ comp may reimburse the expense at a rate of 57.5 cents per mile.
Payment for lost wages
A worker becomes eligible for lost wage payments when his or her injury results in more than seven days away from work. If recovery takes more than 14 days, the employee may also receive compensation for the first seven days. The worker should receive these payments directly, and the payments should continue until the treating physician approves his or her return to work.
Wage compensation rate
The compensation rate is income-based. An employee may be eligible to receive payments at a rate of 66 2/3 of his or her average weekly wage, with that average based on the four quarters immediately preceding the injury. If a worker holds more than one job, those wages may also count toward the compensation rate. However, the state sets a limit of $866.67 per week on payments.