Proving Workers Compensation Brain Injury Cases
By: Robert F. Goings
Workers Compensation Brain Injury Cases in South Carolina
A Workers Compensation claim involving a brain injury can be one of the most challenging to prove under the S.C. Workers Compensation laws. A brain injury can occur from a serious accident, a blunt force striking the head, or from occupational harms such as the exposure to dangerous chemicals. Under workers compensation, an employee is typically entitled up to 500 weeks of benefits.
However, South Carolina law provides that an injured employee can receive lifetime indemnity and medical benefits if he is totally disabled from paraplegia, quadriplegia or “physical brain damage.” S.C. Code § 42-9-10(C). The Workers Compensation laws determine that “physical brain damage” is among the most serious impairments within the statutory exception to the 500 week cap on benefits as an indication that the legislature was contemplating brain damage so severe that the person could not subsequently return to suitable gainful employment.
In 2013, the South Carolina Supreme Court held issued two significant cases involving the legal requirements to receive lifetime benefits from a physical brain injury: Sparks v. Palmetto Hardwood and Crisp v. SouthCo. The Supreme Court concluded that “physical brain damage” as used in § 42-9-10(C) is physical brain damage that is both “permanent” and “severe.” The severity of the permanent brain damage is the lynchpin of the analysis. Most often, medical and occupational experts must be retained to provide sufficient evidence to prove the brain injury is “permanent” and “severe.” Inherent in the requirement that the damage to the brain be severe is the requirement that the worker is unable to return to suitable gainful employment.
Contact a Columbia South Carolina Workers Compensation Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has experienced a brain injury that was caused on the job, contact a Columbia, South Carolina Workers Compensation Attorney today. We are here to help you with your workers compensation claim.