The statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims in South Carolina is generally two years from the date of the injury. Those that do not file their claims before this deadline typically lose their right to benefits they would have otherwise been entitled to.
There are many extenuating circumstances and situations in which the statute of limitations may not always be clear. To protect your rights and ensure you do not miss these deadlines, make sure you have a dedicated South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney working for you.
Reporting Your Injury
One of the first deadlines you need to be aware of is the amount of time you have to report your injury to your employer. This is commonly referred to as the notice period. According to South Carolina workers comp laws, you must notify your employer of your injury within 90 days of the accident.
Although you may initially attempt to downplay the severity of your injuries, if you realize that your condition is worsening, you must take action as soon as possible to report your accident and injuries to your employer. If you do not report your injury within 90 days, your employer will bar you from seeking the workers’ compensation benefits you might otherwise have been entitled to.
Exceptions to the Notice Period
Although you must notify your employer of your injury within 90 days, there are some exceptions to the notice period. Although many injuries occur due to a single traumatic event, such as a slip and fall, kitchen accident, or motor vehicle wreck, this is not always the case.
In instances where victims have suffered repetitive trauma, employees are required to notify their employers of injuries within 90 days of discovery. This means you have 90 days from the date you discovered your injuries or should have discovered your injuries if you had done reasonable due diligence by seeking medical attention.
Third-Party Liability and the Statute of Limitations
You must also consider whether someone else’s negligence has contributed to your work injuries. If you are going to file a third-party liability lawsuit, you must be prepared to do so within the personal injury statute of limitations.
According to South Carolina personal injury laws, you have as much as three years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit. The court system will bar you from pursuing your case if your claim is not filed before this deadline.
Exceptions to Workers’ Comp Statute of Limitations Deadlines
When you are filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you generally have up to two years from the date of your work injury to do so. However, there are some exceptions to the workers’ comp statute of limitations deadlines for occupational diseases and fatalities.
Workers’ Comp for Occupational Diseases
Workers may be exposed to toxic substances or chemicals which can cause occupational diseases. If you were exposed to radiation, asbestos, or developed lead poisoning, your condition may deteriorate over a period of time. It may be several years before you receive a definitive diagnosis. However, once you receive your diagnosis, you will have two years from your diagnosis date to file your workers’ compensation claim.
Claims for a Work-Related Fatality
When employees suffer fatal work injuries, their surviving family members may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. South Carolina law gives surviving spouses and children up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death to file the claim for death benefits.
However, this exception is not always valid. Only in instances where it may take several weeks, months, or years for a death to occur will this exception apply.
When Can the Limitation Period Be Extended?
In some instances, the limitation period can be extended. However, this is rare. Employers exhibiting poor conduct may waive the statute of limitations.
For example, if an employer tells an employee that they do not have workers’ compensation coverage or misrepresent the details of pursuing a workers’ comp claim, the statute of limitations may be invalid in your case. If your employer tells you they are going to file your workers’ compensation claim but they never do, the statute of limitations may also be unenforceable.
They can also voluntarily waive the statute of limitations by failing to inform the employee of their rights or making a mistake in the workers’ compensation claims process.
What Does It Mean to Toll the Statute of Limitations?
Tolling the statute of limitation means the deadline to file your claim is temporarily paused. Although these situations are rare, they could significantly impact your workers’ compensation claim. If an individual has suffered a cognitive injury or is mentally incapacitated and unable to notify their employer of their injury or file a workers’ compensation claim, the statute of limitations can be tolled until the cognitive disability or mental incapacity is no more.
Additionally, if the injured worker is a minor under the age of 18, the statute of limitations for their workers’ compensation claim would be tolled until the worker reaches 18 years of age. If you are unsure whether the statute of limitations should be tolled in your case, make sure you discuss your questions and concerns with your workers’ compensation attorney, who can offer the legal support and guidance you need when you need it most.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in South Carolina for Help Today
Failure to file your claim before the statute of limitations deadline expires could have a devastating impact on your workers’ comp claim and your ability to continue providing for your family despite your injuries. Having an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney working for you could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
With Shelly Leeke Law Firm advocating for your rights, you could rest easier knowing the statute of limitations will have no bearing on the outcome of your case. Contact our team for a no-cost, risk-free consultation.
Our firm offers complimentary case reviews to work injury victims across the state of South Carolina. Claim yours by calling our office or completing our online contact form today.