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Timeline Issues Around Workers' Compensation Cases

How Long Does an Employee Have to Report an Injury, Time Limits to File

How Long Does an Employee Have to Report a Work-Related Injury?

Ninety (90) days. No compensation shall be payable unless notice of the injury is given within ninety (90) days after the occurrence of the accident, unless a reasonable excuse is made to the satisfaction of the Commission for not giving such notice and the Commission is satisfied that the employer is not prejudiced S.C. Code Ann. § 42-15-20. Every injured employee or his representative shall immediately 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. 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 employer had knowledge of the accident.

With an occupational disease, the "accident" occurs, for notice purposes, when the workers' compensation claimant becomes disabled and could, through reasonable diligence, discover that his condition is compensable. Muir v. C.R. Bard, Inc. 336 S.C. 266, 519 S.E.2d 583 (S.C. App. 1999).

The statutory notice provisions for workers' compensation coverage for work-related injury should be liberally construed in favor of claimants. Etheredge v. Monsanto Co. 349 S.C. 451, 562 S.E.2d 679 (S.C. App. 2002).

Is there a time limit to file a workers' compensation claim?

Notice of the accident:
No compensation shall be payable unless notice of the injury is given within ninety (90) days after the occurrence of the accident, unless (1) the employee demonstrates a reasonable excuse for his failure to give notice, and it is made to the satisfaction of the Commission and (2) the Commission is satisfied that the employer has not been prejudiced. S.C. Code Ann. § 42-15-20.

Statute of Limitations:
A Claimant has two (2) years after she discovers she has a compensable injury to file a workers' compensation claim. The right to compensation for accidental injuries "shall be forever barred unless a claim is filed with the Commission within two (2) years after an accident, or if death resulted from the accident, within two (2) years of the date of death."

For an occupational disease, the two year period does not begin to run until the afflicted employee has been definitely diagnosed as having an occupational disease and has been notified of such diagnosis.

Also, an act of the employer may constitute estoppel to plead the statute of limitations if the employer made representations that misled the claimant, who, acting upon them in good faith, failed to commence his action within the statutory period.

Change of Condition:
There is also a statute of limitations for a Change of Condition S.C. Code Ann. § 42-17-90. A change in the claimant's physical condition as a result of the original injury, occurring after the first award must be made twelve (12) months from the date of the last payment of compensation.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for an Injured Minor? If So, What is it?

S.C. Code Ann. §42-15-50 provides that no time limitation shall run against any person who is mentally incompetent or a minor dependent as long as he has no guardian, trustee or committee. S.C. Code Ann. §42-1-590 states that "any injury while employed contrary to the laws of this State shall be compensable under this Title the same, and to the same extent, as if such minor employee was an adult." The statute is considered to stand for the proposition that a minor may recover regardless of a false statement in an application concerning her age. S.C. Code Ann. §42-1-130 defines the term "employee" under the Act and provides that it shall include "minors, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed."

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