When you are stuck dealing with the fallout of your on-the-job injury, getting financial support is crucial. However, not knowing how much you could expect to recover once your application is approved can be stressful. Examining workers’ compensation settlement amounts in South Carolina can give you a general idea of how much your claim is worth.
Working with a workers’ comp attorney is the best way to find out exactly how much you could be awarded. Our team at Shelly Leeke Law Firm can give you insight into how your claim is valued, the extent of your damages, and what to expect as you seek the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
How Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Settlements are Calculated
It is crucial to understand how workers’ compensation benefits and settlements are calculated. The last thing you want is to expect to be awarded a specific figure only to be shocked when the amount is substantially less than you are expecting. Many people wonder what the average workers’ comp settlement is in South Carolina.
However, there really is no average amount, as every person’s case is different. There are several factors that are taken into consideration when calculating the value of a workers’ compensation benefits package. Some of these factors include the severity of your injury, your impairment rating, your average weekly salary, and more.
Reviewing Your Average Weekly Wages
One of the most important factors that determine how much you can expect to collect in workers’ compensation benefits is the amount of your average weekly wages. This sets the specific dollar amount you should receive and wage replacement benefits.
Generally, insurance companies will look at the last four quarters of pay while excluding the current quarter to determine how much you should receive. In South Carolina, you can typically expect to collect around 2/3 of your average weekly wages.
Once you miss at least eight business days of work for your injuries, you can start receiving temporary total disability (TTD) benefits on a weekly basis. This is commonly referred to as a “compensation rate.” For example, if you generally earn an average of $700 each week, you would be entitled to approximately 2/3 of your $700 weekly pay, or $466.
Maximum Number of Weeks Allowable Based on Scheduled Losses
It is also essential to consider the maximum number of weeks allowable. This describes the maximum amount of weeks you can continue receiving your wage replacement benefits. When calculating the total settlement value of a workers comp claim, this factor is critical.
The maximum number of weeks allowable is based on South Carolina’s scheduled losses. Here, each injured body part is given a maximum number of weeks allowed.
For instance, if you suffered a broken or fractured bone in your arm, the maximum number of weeks you could collect workers comp is 220. To determine how much your settlement would be valued at, we would take your average weekly workers’ compensation rate of $466 and multiply that by 220 weeks. This would equal nearly $103,000.
Your Disability and Impairment Ratings
Another factor to consider is your disability and impairment ratings. Impairment ratings are generally assigned by your treating physician to determine what your disability rating should be. Your medical impairment rating will determine the severity of your injuries, how significantly your life has been affected by the accident and your injuries, and the extent of permanent loss of mobility or function.
If you are going to be stuck dealing with permanent work restrictions, it is more likely your treating physician will give you a higher impairment rating. However, it is important to remember that if you are being treated by a physician chosen by the insurance company, they may not always give you a fair impairment rating. You have the right to request a second opinion at the insurance company’s expense.
What Happens if You Settle Your Claim with the Insurance Company
Once you have a better idea of how much your workers’ comp claim should be worth, you can determine whether it is in your best interests to continue collecting workers’ compensation benefits or collect a settlement from the insurance company. Often referred to as a “clincher agreement,” accepting a settlement offer may be ill-advised unless your attorney suggests otherwise.
When you settle a claim with the insurance company, you no longer have the right to request additional benefits if your medical condition worsens over time. Even though you may have reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI), there is no guarantee that your injuries will not worsen as you head back to work and start to get back to your life. Unfortunately, if you accept a settlement offer, you are releasing the insurance company from further liability.
What if You Need Additional Treatment?
If you do wind up needing additional medical care or treatment, you will be stuck covering these costs. Although dealing with the insurance company is not something you want to have to deal with during this time, it is almost always in your best interest to leave your workers’ compensation case open. You may be tempted into accepting a lump sum settlement offer when you are strapped for cash and struggling financially.
However, it is vital to consider the long-term implications of your injuries before making your decision. Understanding the value of your workers’ compensation claim can help you avoid being taken advantage of when you do receive a settlement offer. If you would collect more benefits by continuing to receive disability checks from the insurance company instead of accepting a settlement, it may be a no-brainer to keep your case open.
Get an SC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer on Your Side
Workers’ compensation settlements can be complex. Although every approved injured worker is entitled to coverage of their medical expenses and wage replacement benefits, the amount you can expect to receive will vary widely depending on several factors, including your average weekly salary, impairment rating, the severity of your injuries, and more.
When you need help getting the most out of your workers’ compensation claim, but do not know where to turn, do not hesitate to contact an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney at Shelly Leeke Law Firm. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today when you fill out our quick contact form or call our office to get started.