On the job injury attorneys know that compensation for most South Carolina Workers’ Compensation injuries are addressed by one law on the books known as S.C. Code Ann. Section 42-9-30. This law tells workers’ compensation accident attorneys, the injured worker and the public at large the number of weeks of disability benefits that can be paid for various body parts after an accident at work.
A review of Section 42-9-30 reveals that a complete loss of use caused by injury to the injured worker’s shoulder is worth two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage multiplied by 300 weeks. The arm is worth 220 weeks and the hand 185. Section 42-9-30 also addresses numerous other body parts including, but not limited to, the leg, hip, foot, eyes and the back. For the purposes of this statute, South Carolina neck injuries are considered to be back injuries and the “back” includes injuries to the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.
Importantly, if the injured worker is given an impairment rating by their doctor that is less than 100% to any given body part then that percentage of impairment is taken out of the number of total weeks available for said body part and this typically serves as the beginning basis to analyze the amount of disability the employee has sustained as a result of his accident. For example, if a man injures his back and receives a 5% impairment rating to his spine, then he would likely be entitled to, at a minimum, 15 weeks of disability benefits (300 x .05 = 15 weeks). Theoretically, the case can be worth zero dollars however in many cases where an impairment rating is assigned the value is substantially greater than zero. Impairment is a medical term of art. Disability is a legal term of art that not only includes impairment but also the worker’s age, education, work experience, permanent work restrictions and transferable skills along with many other social factors to determine their ultimate disability in any given case.
While 42-9-30 addresses many body parts and the disability for said parts, it is very important that anyone with a workers’ compensation case look at the specific facts of their case and apply them to all of the the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Many medical conditions and injuries are not addressed by section 30 but are addressed in Regulation 67-1101. Also, many on the job accidents in South Carolina cases result in permanent partial, Section 42-9-20, and/or permanent total, Section 42-9-10, wage loss. Both of these code sections will be discussed in detail in future blog posts.
This blog post is meant to help provide those injured at work in South Carolina and their family’s with one tool to begin to understand how to value their case and is not intended to be legal advice with regard to any specific case and should not be read as such. Every case is different. Those injured must apply all of the facts of their case to all of the Act in order to determine what is best for the worker in their specific case. The Commission’s website is a valuable tool to address this and many other issues and questions that the injured worker may have.