If a worker is injured during the course of their job duties, they are generally entitled to compensation for their injuries under the state workers’ compensation system. When filing a claim, properly calculating compensation rates for a workplace injury can have a significant impact on a worker’s compensation benefits and ultimately on their life.
Calculating compensation rates in Charleston can be incredibly complex and there are ample opportunities for an employer, their human resources department, or an insurance company to inaccurately calculate an injured worker’s compensation rate. If you believe that your workers’ compensation rate has been improperly calculated, contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney today.
Laws on Compensation Rates
Calculating compensation rates in Charleston requires examining a worker’s average weekly wage. Currently, the compensation rate is set at 66 and 2/3 percent of the average weekly wage, according to South Carolina Code § 42-1-40. Workers should be aware that this compensation rate may be subject to a limit of their average weekly wage for the preceding fiscal year.
As of January 1, 2018, the average weekly wage is $838.21, as determined by the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.
Calculating an Employee’s Average Weekly Wage
A worker seeking workers’ compensation benefits must have sustained a compensable injury. A compensable injury under the Worker’s Compensation Act is defined by S.C. Code § 42-1-160 as an “injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment.”
If a worker sustained a compensable injury, they should immediately report their injury to their employer. To calculate the average weekly wage, an employer will utilize Form 20 from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
A worker’s average weekly wage is calculated by examining the worker’s earnings in the previous fifty-two weeks prior to the date of injury. The average weekly wage is then determined by calculating worker’s wages the previous four quarters immediately preceding the quarter in which an injury occurred. Once this number is determined, this is multiplied by 66 and 2/3 percent to get the compensation rate.
Other Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Once a workers’ compensation rate is determined, South Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act provides a schedule for injuries to specific body parts. Under S.C. Code § 42-9-30, each injured body part is assigned a specific number of weeks during which a worker is eligible to receive compensation. For example, a worker is entitled to varying weeks of compensation for:
- The loss of a thumb – 65 weeks
- The loss of an index finger – 40 weeks
- The loss of an arm – 220 weeks
- The loss of a leg – 195 weeks
- The loss of an eye – 140 weeks
- The complete loss of hearing in one ear – 80 weeks
- The complete loss of hearing in both ears – 165 weeks
- The total or partial loss of, or loss of use of, a member, organ, or part of the body – up to a maximum of 500 weeks
Since the number of weeks a worker can receive compensation determines the overall amount of compensation a worker will receive, it is critical that this number is as accurate as possible.
Charleston Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Could Help Calculate Compensation Rates
If you suffered a workplace injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover your lost wages, medical expenses, and reduced earning ability due to a disability. A skilled workers’ compensation lawyer with experience calculating compensation rates in Charleston could help you make sure you receive the proper benefits. Consult with an experienced attorney soon to discuss your case.