Some badly hurt workers qualify for maximum workers’ compensation benefits. But not all. For those who don’t qualify, there may be another option providing significant benefits…if you prove your right to them, which isn’t easy. South Carolina workers’ comp law calls them “lost earning capacity” or “wage loss” benefits. Here’s how they work.
How You Qualify
Basically, you must prove two things:
- You permanently injured more than one body part, and
- The injury prevents you from ever earning the same wages again.
Sound simple? Like many things in law, it’s not. Let’s break it down.
Injuring More Than One Body Part
To prove this, you’ll need an experienced workplace injury lawyer to comb through your medical records and help develop evidence that your injury is both permanent and affects another part of your body. As strange as it sounds, South Carolina workers’ comp law specifically defines what “body parts” are. For example, breaking two bones in the same leg is likely one body part.
The good news is that the second injured body part doesn’t have to be directly injured by your work accident. The classic example of this is an on-the-job injury to the lower back, causing radiculopathy—nerve damage down one or both legs, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. The initial back injury plus nerve damage to the legs equals two injured body parts.
And you should expect the insurance company to fight this hard.
Even if you can prove the two injuries, you’re still not done. You’ve got one more hurdle to clear.
Wage Loss Caused by the Injury
You’ve got to prove your injuries keep you from making the same amount at your prior job, or in another line of work that you’re qualified for. Your word that you can’t earn the same pay won’t cut it. And don’t count on your supervisor to testify for you, either.
The standard for proving lost earning capacity is a vocational evaluation. These are done by experts called vocational consultants, who investigate your background, your prior job requirements, and use the medical evidence plus other testing to develop your post-injury limits. The consultant uses this data to research the type of job you’d qualify for with your limits. Then he issues a report justifying his educated estimate how much you can expect to earn after your work injury.
You Need Help
Know any vocational consultants? Are you prepared to go through potentially hundreds of pages of medical records—and do you know what to look for, or what to talk about with your doctor? Of course not. That’s not your job. It’s ours.
If you’re a badly hurt worker, especially with a serious back injury with symptoms in your legs or a neck injury causing arm problems, start a live chat to see how we can help get you the best comp benefits possible. Because you won’t get another chance…and no one else will look out for you.