Posted on behalf of Harbin & Burnett on Mar 19, 2018 in Workers' Compensation
When we have a potential client call us with a work injury, one of the first questions we ask is whether the accident has been reported to the employer. Why? In South Carolina, an injured employee is required to give notice of the accident to the employer as soon as practical and within 90 days of the occurrence. If an employee fails to give notice within the time period, a reasonable excuse must be made to the Commission and the Commission must be satisfied that there is no prejudice to the employer. How does an employee give notice? There is no prescribed method, although some companies may require reporting an injury to a specific person or department. Absent any explicit instructions, we recommend that an employee report the injury to the supervisor as soon as possible. If there is an HR department, we also encourage the employee to report to them as well. In addition, some companies have a plant nurse or doctor. It is a good idea to report to them as well. Repetitive trauma cases are handled a bit differently as are occupational disease cases, but it is best to report as soon as possible in all cases. South Carolina law reads as follows:
§42-15-20 Notice to employer of accident or repetitive trauma
(A) Every injured employee or his representative immediately shall on the occurrence of an accident, or as soon thereafter as practicable, give or cause to be given to the employer a notice of the accident and the employee shall not be entitled to physician's fees nor to any compensation which may have accrued under the terms of this title prior to the giving of such notice, unless it can be shown that the employer, his agent, or representative, had knowledge of the accident or that the party required to give such notice had been prevented from doing so by reason of physical or mental incapacity or the fraud or deceit of some third person.
(B) Except as provided in subsection (C), no compensation shall be payable unless such notice is given within ninety days after the occurrence of the accident or death, unless reasonable excuse is made to the satisfaction of the commission for not giving timely notice, and the commission is satisfied that the employer has not been prejudiced thereby.
(C) In the case of repetitive trauma, notice must be given by the employee within ninety days of the date the employee discovered, or could have discovered by exercising reasonable diligence, that his condition is compensable, unless reasonable excuse is made to the satisfaction of the commission for not giving timely notice, and the commission is satisfied that the employer has not been unduly prejudiced thereby.
As you can see, an employee is not entitled to any benefits until after notice is given. So report your injury as soon as you can. Then give us a call to discuss your claim.