Being declared totally disabled from a work injury in
A South Carolina worker seriously injured at work can be declared totally disabled under workers’ comp rules in the following ways.
An injured worker is legally presumed disabled if he loses:
- Both hands, or both arms, or both feet, or both legs
- Vision in both eyes
- A combination of any of the two above
The law also presumes total disability if a worker loses 50 percent or more of his back.
Presumed disability extends to paralyzed workers, both paraplegic (legs) and quadriplegic (all limbs), and workers who suffer physical (organic) brain damage.
Disability Proven by Lost Earning Ability
Injured workers who are not presumed disabled can prove they are by showing their injuries stripped them of virtually all their marketable job skills. For example, a construction worker who lost 35 percent use of his back may look normal sitting in a lawn chair at a neighborhood get-together, but his injury keeps him from being able to lift or stand long enough to do the only job he’s trained and qualified for. At Holland & Usry, we often hire an expert—called a vocational consultant—for these cases. The vocational consultant evaluates our client to determine whether she has any marketable skills unaffected by her injury, which can help the Commission decide total disability.
Total Disability Benefits
South Carolina injured workers who qualify for total disability under workers’ comp get the most benefits available under the law:
- Disability income. Most disabled workers get two-thirds of their average weekly wage for up to 500 weeks. Paralyzed workers or workers who sustained physical brain damage get that income for life.
- Medical treatment for life. This treatment only covers the injury that disabled the worker. The construction worker permanently disabled by a back injury can get free medical treatment for his back, but is on his own for everything else from the common cold to cancer.
To protect workers and encourage the disabled to be as productive as they can, an employer cannot cut off total disability benefits if the worker returns to work.
South Carolina workers’ comp total disability awards are often the most expensive for insurance companies, so they tend to fight them to the bitter end. If your work injuries are grave enough to qualify you for total disablement, expect a battle where the insurance company will do all it can to prevent from paying the long-term benefits you need.
Don’t let the insurance managers take advantage of your pain and fatigue to shortchange you on benefits; you only get one chance at securing the most income benefits you can legally get and the medical care you may need the rest of your life. Feel free to contact us by email or a live chat to discuss how we can build a case justifying these vital benefits for you and your family. You can also call us at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841. If you’re too hurt to come to us, we will come to you.