Those injured on the job in South Carolina that suffer total wage loss as a result of their serious injuries must prove their loss pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §42-9-10 (Amount of compensation for total disability; what constitutes total disability). Not all workers’ compensation accidents result in total wage loss but many do.
It is important to note that the worker really needs to have medical evidence and opinions that support a finding that he or she is totally disabled from work and will suffer loss of earning capacity in order for this code section to apply. If those hurt on the job can meet this burden of proof, then the law provides that the employer shall pay sixty-six and two-thirds percent of his average weekly salary during the period of total disability.
Also, importantly, some medical conditions are conclusively presumed to constitute total and permanent disability. For example, “the loss of both hands, arms, shoulders, feet, legs, hips, or vision in both eyes, or any two thereof, constitutes total and permanent disability…” Equally important is that those injured on the job are limited to a maximum of 500 weeks of disability benefits for their injuries with only a few exceptions which include physical brain injury, paraplegia and quadriplegia.
In those cases where brain damage and the like exist, the worker then is not subject to the 500 week limitation and rather is entitled to lifetime disability checks and medical care and treatment. In lifetime benefits cases, injured workers cannot receive a total lump sum of their award but are paid in weekly installments for the remainder of their life. Claimants can also move for a partial lump sum of their lifetime benefits to purchase for their needs including, but not limited to, a home. There will be more on this partial lump sum issue in a later blog post.