Chapter 11 of Title 42 on Workers’ Compensation in the South Carolina Code of Laws addresses the laws and regulations concerning occupational illnesses in workers’ compensation claims. This blog will discuss occupational diseases and disabilities are defined by South Carolina law, what types of situations will not qualify as occupational diseases, and other general information that you’ll need to understand if you find yourself facing an occupational illness or disease.
How South Carolina Specifically Defines Occupational Illnesses
Occupational diseases are defined by South Carolina law as any kind of disease that is caused by the employment tasks of the worker and is directly related to or associated with their occupation. For instance, if an animal control worker were bitten by a rabid dog, this would be considered an occupational illness, because it is directly related the work responsibilities and exposures of the worker. However, if a factory worker were bitten by a rabid dog, this would not be considered an occupational disease (but could be compensable as an accident as mentioned below).
Which Illnesses are Not Considered to be Occupational in Greenville, South Carolina?
The South Carolina Code of Laws specifies a number of situations in which an illness would not be considered occupational in nature, and therefore would not be covered by workers’ compensation. For instance, if the illness did not occur because of exposure to a hazard that was directly related to the nature of their employment, it may not be eligible. The same is true if it was caused by a climate condition. Contagious illnesses that are caught from coworkers are also not considered to be occupational in nature, because the worker could have gotten the same illness while not at work. The same is true of any general illness that everyone would be exposed to, regardless of where they
How South Carolina Specifically Defines Disability in Occupational Illness Cases
There are different kinds of disability in South Carolina, based on whether or not you can work, with or without
restrictions, and for how long. There is partial temporary disability, partial permanent disability, total temporary disability, and total permanent disability. In cases where you are temporarily out of work because of an occupational illness, you may be eligible for total temporary disability benefits. If you are able to work with restrictions, then you may receive partial temporary disability benefits. If you cannot ever return to work at all, then you may be able to get total permanent disability benefits. If you can return to work, but never at your former capacity, then you may be eligible to receive partial permanent disability benefits. This will be based on the restrictions and medical records.
What Happens if You Have a Work Related Injury and Occupational Illness at the Same Time?
While it is fairly rare, it is not impossible for someone to end up with a work related injury and occupational illness at the same time. For instance, we can return to the example of an animal control worker who is bitten by a rabid dog. The worker may require certain medical treatment, and may even be out of work for a period of time. However, they cannot pursue two separate claims for their medical expenses and wage loss. Rather, they can pursue a workers’ compensation claim that encompasses all of the related expenses and losses, without recovering compensation for the same expense twice. The same is true of situations where a worker is killed by an injury and/or illness that is work related. His or her dependents cannot file two separate claims for the injury or illness and the wrongful death, but can pursue all benefits that are owed to them within a single workers’ compensation claim.
Greenville, South Carolina, Employees Must Be Honest About Medical Conditions
Whenever someone is hired onto a new job in Greenville, South Carolina, they may be questioned about their medical conditions, such as whether or not they have a disease that could lead to disability or death in the future. If the employee is untruthful about this and is found out later, then they will not be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits for the associated disability or medical expenses. This does not mean that you will not be hired if you honestly disclose medical conditions. Rather, you may simply have to waive your right to pursue disability benefits if your condition should become disabling.
When Your Pre-Existing Medical Condition is Exacerbated by Work Conditions
There are situations where you may have a pre-existing medical condition that is worsened by your work conditions and employment tasks. When this happens, you can recover disability benefits, but only as much as you would have received without the pre-existing condition. All factors will be taken into account in the calculation of your disability benefits.
Exceptions to Greenville, South Carolina, Workers’ Compensation Rules in Occupational Illnesses
There are a few different exceptions that you need to be aware of in Greenville, South Carolina, workers’ compensation cases involving occupational illnesses. For instance, if you refused to use certain safety equipment, or if the cause of your illness is not employment related, you may not be entitled to disability benefits. If you become injured or ill because you were intoxicated or because you intentionally harmed yourself or acted inappropriately, then this could prevent you from recovering such benefits, also. In cases where you are offered light duty work, but refuse to accept it, this will cause you to become ineligible for further benefits.
To learn more about your workers’ compensation claim in Greenville, South Carolina, and whether such exceptions apply, contact Double Aught Injury Lawyers for a free consultation.
Bryan Ramey is a Personal Injury Attorney who practices in the upstate of South Carolina. He graduated from The University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 27 years now. Bryan Ramey believes in representing the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.