Workplace accidents are an unfortunate but common part of life in South Carolina. Some victims might be unable to stay at their current position following an injury and need to search for a new job.
Fortunately, injured workers can get a new job while on Workers’ Compensation for injuries from their current job. While you have this right, some important requirements can impact your benefits. You must notify your employer and the state of your intention to change jobs, but you have options on when you decide to do this. The best strategy is to wait for your Workers’ Compensation claim to settle, after which you will be virtually free to find better employment.
If you have been injured in a work accident and are thinking of changing jobs, our Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers can help you determine your rights moving forward. For a free case consultation, contact Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers today at (803) 451-4000.
Can I Get a New Job While on Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?
Workers’ Compensation is intended to provide injured workers with medical benefits covering the treatment and medical costs associated with their injuries. Unfortunately, some workers’ injuries might prevent them from returning to their job or force them to take a new position with light-duty work that can accommodate their injuries. However, light work could mean reduced income, causing you to look for a new job.
You can get a new job without losing your Workers’ Compensation benefits if you have been restricted at work or your employer does not have a suitable position. In most cases, your benefits will be available if you continue in your initial position, change jobs with your employer, or become unemployed. To do this, you must notify your employer that you are leaving and wait to begin your new job. Importantly, you must report your new job to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) before you start training to avoid committing Workers’ Compensation fraud.
However, some important factors could impact whether your employer can terminate your benefits when starting a new job. If you attempt to find a new job before your Workers’ Compensation settlement has been finalized or take a new position that pays a higher salary while your claim is open, your former employer might try to recover the compensation you have already received or terminate your benefits entirely. Our South Carolina personal injury lawyers can help you understand your rights when seeking a new job while receiving benefits.
When Can I Safely Get a New Job After Receiving Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?
Like most things in life, timing is everything. In most cases, injured workers will be given a disability rating and given disability wages if they cannot return to the job or if an employer cannot provide light-duty work. Further, if you quit when light-duty work is available, you might be denied future benefits. Also, if you leave your job for a better-paying one after being injured but before your Workers’ Compensation claim settles, you will likely lose out on your disability benefits. Thus, timing is critical to ensure your compensation is not impacted when leaving for another job.
When Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Settles
The best time to get a new job will be after your Workers’ Compensation settlement has been finalized. Your right to recover compensation could be jeopardized if you decide to quit while negotiations are still taking place. Negotiations can fall through, leaving you potentially liable for your damages. Starting a new job will also expose you to the insurance company’s claims that you are well enough to work, which could be used as a basis for terminating your benefits.
Settlements can either be a full and final agreement that compensates the injured worker or an agreement for continued medical coverage. Once the terms of your Workers’ Compensation settlement have been agreed upon and finalized, you will have much more freedom to pursue other employment opportunities.
After Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
Another point you might consider is transitioning to a new position after reaching what is known as maximum medical improvement. Once a doctor determines that you have healed as much as you are going to from the type of injuries you sustained, you have reached your maximum medical improvement. From there, your doctor will provide a report to the insurance company detailing any permanent injuries, your ability to work, and your long-term medical prognosis and expenses.
You will have a better idea of where you stand with the job you were injured in after reaching maximum medical improvement. However, you might need to consider light-duty work if offered before outright quitting. In most cases, it is best to wait until your Workers’ Compensation claim is fully finalized. Our Columbia personal injury lawyers can review your case to determine the best path forward to ensure you keep receiving the benefits you are entitled to.
How Do I Defend My Workers’ Compensation Benefits When Looking for a New Job in South Carolina?
You can take several steps to protect your benefits when looking for or after starting a new job. First, save any communications and offers for light-duty work after being injured. If your employer cannot offer you light-duty work, they must compensate you for your full wages. Some employers might try to claim later that you refused to take light-duty work and cancel your benefits.
You should also keep detailed records of your medical treatment. These records can become important evidence of your injuries’ needs if your employer decides to terminate your benefits later.
Just as important, be sure to have a new job lined up before quitting your current employment. The next job you take can significantly impact your prior workplace injury benefits, so it is important to know that factor when moving forward with your decision. Our Sumter personal injury lawyers can help you navigate this difficult process, so your compensation is not jeopardized.
Our South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help
If you are thinking of getting a new job after receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, our Lexington personal injury lawyers can help you ensure that your benefits are not terminated. Call Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers at (803) 451-4000 for a free case evaluation.