Back Injuries Under South Carolina Workers' Compensation Laws

           One of the most common types of injuries people suffer is a back injury. In fact, a comprehensive study by UNC School of Medicine determined that more than eighty percent (80%) of Americans will experience an episode of back pain at some point in their lives and that total costs of the condition are estimated at greater than $100 billion annually.  Luckily, in South Carolina, most employers with four or more employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance to help workers who are injured on the job. This means that if your back injury is a result of your job duties, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to assist in your recovery.

            If you are injured on the job in South Carolina, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will be responsible for paying your medical bills and compensating you for any time you miss from work. Additionally, the law in South Carolina provides employees with compensation for any permanent impairment the employee suffers as a result of their work-related injury.

Calculating Permanent Impairment For Your Back Injury

            South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act sets forth a specific number of weeks for certain body parts to use in calculating the value of your potential permanency. This is used in conjunction with your compensation rate (two-thirds your average weekly wage) and any impairment rating assigned by your treating physician. Specifically, the Act provides for compensation of up to three-hundred (300) weeks of your compensation rate for injuries to the back that result in an impairment rating of 50% or less. For example, if your doctor assigns you a 30% impairment to your back, you would be entitled to ninety (90) weeks of compensation at your designation compensation rate.

            On the other hand, if you are assigned an impairment rating of 50% or greater to the back, the law provides for compensation of up to five-hundred (500) weeks at your designated compensation rate. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act also provides injured workers, under certain circumstances, to be deemed permanently and totally disabled in which they are entitled to receive the full five-hundred (500) weeks of compensation at their designated compensation rate.

            Notably, South Carolina creates a rebuttable presumption of permanent and total disability in cases involving 50% or more loss of use to the back. This means that an injured worker who receives an impairment rating of 50% or more to the back is presumed to be permanently and totally disabled and could be entitled to five-hundred (500) weeks of compensation at their designated compensation rate. The burden then shifts to the employer to prove that the worker is not permanently and totally disabled. For example, if an injured worker has been assigned a 70% impairment to the back by their treating physician, it would be presumed that they are entitled to five-hundred (500) weeks of compensation unless the employer can prove they are capable of returning to gainful employment and earning meaningful wages.

Back Injures Can Affect Additional Body Parts

            What makes back injures even more complicated is that they often affect other parts of the body. For example, if you have suffered an injury to your lumbar spine that results in some type of nerve impingement, it is common to experience shooting pain or numbness into your legs. Likewise, if you have suffered an injury to the cervical spine, you might experience pain across your shoulders and down into your arms. South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws require employers to provide medical treatment for all causally related body parts that stem form the initial injury. Unfortunately, insurance carries often deny injured workers’ additional medical treatment beyond the initial injured body part.

Get Help From An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

            Back injures can present many complex issues that are unique to workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina. For these reasons, it is always advisable to at least speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help provide some sound advice and guidance. If you have suffered a back injury on the job in South Carolina, contact the Law Office of Jared C. Williams, LLC at (843) 991-6528 and we will be happy to speak with you and make sure you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled.