Workers’ compensation is money that is paid to workers that have been injured at work. It is important that you follow the rules laid out for filing and documenting your claim. It is especially important that you get the medical attention that you need. There are a number of factors that can influence how much your South Carolina workers’ compensation claim is worth and how much you may be paid. This article will examine some of the aspects that are used to calculate workers’ compensation, however each claim is different and you should talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to understand the specifics of your case.
The South Carolina legislature has laid out a basic formula to calculate disability for the purpose of workers’ compensation. Each body part that is injured is worth a certain number of “weeks.” “Weeks” is essentially the number of weeks of compensation that the worker should receive. The Workers’ Compensation Act, Section 42-9-30 of the South Carolina code lays out each body part and how many weeks they are worth. However, this is just the first part of the formula and as the formula progresses the number of weeks may change.
For example, let’s say that worker X is a worker in South Carolina who is injured at work and the injury results in the loss of his arm. According to the South Carolina Statute, the loss of an arm is “worth” 220 weeks.
Once you have the number of weeks, you multiply that by the compensation rate of the worker. The compensation rate is the injured worker’s average weekly rate. Averaging how much money someone makes over the four quarters before the quarter that the injury occurred sets a worker’s average weekly rate. However, the average weekly rate is not the same as the compensation rate. But to figure out the compensation rate you need to first start with the average weekly rate.
Using worker X from above, if in the most recent quarter he made an average of $300 because he was out due to his injury, and the last four quarters before that he made $500 every week, then his average weekly wage is $500.
Once you have the average weekly rate, you need to multiply it by 66 ⅔ percent to get the compensation rate. So in our example, Worker x makes $500 as his average weekly rate, so we need to multiply that by 66 ⅔ percent. So: $500 x 66 ⅔ percent = $333, rounded to the nearest dollar.
It is important to note that South Carolina caps the average weekly rate at a maximum amount that changes each year and goes by the year that the injury occurred. For injuries in 2016 the maximum weekly compensation rate is $784.03.
Once there is a compensation rate, it can be multiplied by the number of weeks that the statute sets out for the injury to get the total base amount for the loss of the body part.
For example, now that we know Worker x has a compensation rate of $333 a week, and the loss of his arm is worth 220 weeks, we multiply the two to get the basic value. 220 times $333 equals $73,260.
While this formula is a little complicated, it seems rather straightforward. However that is not always the case as will be explained below.
Percentage of Disability
In our example above, we assumed that worker X lost his arm. However, sometimes body parts are not completely lost or disabled, but there is some amount of partial disability that the worker should be compensated for. South Carolina does this by first establishing what “percentage” disabled someone’s body part is. This is sometimes called the “wild card” in workers’ compensation because it is often difficult to predict what the South Carolina workers’ compensation commissioner will determine is the accurate percentage.
There are two things that the workers’ compensation commissioner will take into account to figure out the percentage of disability. These are your medical impairment rating and your workers’ compensation disability rating:
- Medical Impairment Rating – A medical impairment rating is a rating that will be based on medical evidence and doctors’ records. Medical impairment ratings are related to how injured and impaired a body part is. This is an overall look at disfigurement, functional limitations, loss of mobility and other relevant factors.
- Workers’ Compensation Disability Rating – The workers’ compensation disability rating is based on how much the injury will impact your ability to work in the future. For example, someone with a sedentary job that injures his or her leg may not be too affected by the injury when it comes to getting jobs in the future, however a construction worker who has no other skills who hurts his or her back may be totally unable to find work in the future.
This part of the disability claim is what lawyers will often focus on to make a stronger case. The percentage that the workers’ compensation commissioner determines as your percentage of disability has a huge effect on the amount that you are paid. To determine workers’ compensation payment for partial disability, the rate for total disability is multiplied by the amount for partial disability.
For example, if worker X above had injured his arm instead of losing it completely he would probably get significantly less money. Let’s say the workers’ compensation commissioner determined that his arm was only 50 percent injured; worker X would only be entitled to half of the amount, which would be $73,260 x 50 percent = $36,630.
Greenville, South Carolina Workers’ Compensations Lawyers
If you are injured at work you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. As discussed above, workers’ compensation amounts vary greatly depending on a number of variables. You need a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer working on your side to help you get the most out of your claim and help decide you whether you should settle or not. Experienced Greenville, South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at Double Aught Injury Lawyers can assist you throughout your claim. If you have been injured at work, contact us as soon as possible.