What Is a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner?

In South Carolina, all disputes about work-related injuries are heard by the state Workers’ Compensation Commission. Seven commissioners, appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate, serve six-year terms and are responsible for enforcing South Carolina workers’ compensation laws to resolve disagreements between injured employees and their employers. A panel of commissioners handles initial appeals as well.

At Mickle & Bass, we have the privilege of having four former South Carolina workers’ compensation commissioners as part of our team of workers’ compensation lawyers. Their high-level knowledge and experience has helped countless injured workers get back on their feet again. They are ready to help you, too.

South Carolina has a no-fault workers’ compensation system. That means that it doesn’t matter who is to blame for your job-related injury. If you were hurt at work, the employer’s insurance company is obligated to pay for medical treatments and other expenses sustained as a result of the accident. This also includes treatment for occupational illnesses, such as respiratory diseases or cancer caused by exposure to hazardous materials or carpal tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive motions, for example.

But many times insurers don’t want to pay for the treatment you need. In other cases, employers deny that an accident or injury even occurred. When situations like that arise, it is important to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who understands the complexities of South Carolina’s regulations and can get your claim handled in a just and timely way.

Contact us now for a free consultation, and discover how the former South Carolina workers’ compensation commissioners at Mickle & Bass can put their experience to work for you.

What Is the Benefit of Having a Former SC Commissioner as My Lawyer?

Workers’ compensation laws are complex and meeting deadlines is important. No one understands that better than a former South Carolina workers’ compensation commissioner, who spent years traveling throughout the state to hear cases and knows the importance of documents being filed correctly the first time.

Past commissioners also have the advantage of having heard many different types of claims during their terms. It’s no exaggeration when attorneys tell you that every case is unique. That is especially true in workers’ compensation claims, where every job-related accident, injury or illness can have different consequences and each employer’s response can be different depending on the circumstances. You can count on a former commissioner to have “heard it all” and can bring those years of experience to their approach to your case.

When it comes to claims that come before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, a former commissioner also knows that coming to a speedy resolution matters. That’s not because commissioners just want to clear their calendars quickly. In many cases of work-related injuries or illnesses, getting the proper treatment without delay can be critical to improve your chances for a complete recovery. Having a workers’ compensation attorney who has also been responsible for rendering decisions means that you will get balanced representation from someone who is used to seeing both sides of the story.

Mediation and South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission Hearings

In some South Carolina cases involving injured workers, it is mandatory that employees and their employers first try to reach a settlement through mediation before moving on to a formal hearing. These types of claims include:

  • All cases alleging permanent and total disability
  • Third-party lien reductions
  • Occupational disease claims
  • Mental/mental injury claims (with no accompanying physical injury)
  • Denied death claims
  • Those with concurrent jurisdiction under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act and the Federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

A commissioner may also order mediation in other types of claims, and a filing party also has the right to request mediation if desired.

During mediation, the parties will meet with a neutral third-party mediator (who is also an attorney) and present both sides of the case. The mediator will then try to help the parties negotiate a settlement they can both agree to, resolving their case without a commissioner’s involvement.

Sometimes mediation fails. That’s when you would request a hearing with the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

What a SC Workers’ Comp Hearing Looks Like

Generally, your hearing will take place in a small courtroom. Our workers’ compensation attorneys will prepare all of your documents, assist you with depositions and help you get ready to testify and be cross-examined. The commissioner will review the testimony and the parties’ supporting documents and then issue his or her decision. That can take some time, but the South Carolina process is among the more efficient ones.

If the commissioner’s order is in your favor, that could be where the process ends and you and your family can be on the road to recovery with the full workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to.

If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, you do have the right to appeal the initial order. Your claim would move on to be reviewed by a panel of commissioners (excluding the one who issued the first order). They may affirm the previous order or deny it on legal grounds. Depending on that outcome, you and your lawyer could discuss whether to continue the appeals process.

The former workers’ compensation commissioners at Mickle & Bass know what to expect during a hearing. They also know how to properly prepare a case so that it has its best shot at success.

Contact Our Columbia, Rock Hill and Myrtle Beach Lawyers for a Free Consultation

At Mickle & Bass, we have seen how a job-related injury can drastically change your life. Our team of former South Carolina workers’ compensation commissioners can help you obtain the resources that you need to make the best recovery possible.

With workers’ compensation cases, timing is important. Our lawyers are ready to ease your burdens and deal with insurance companies so that you can focus on getting well again. Reach out to one of our offices in Columbia, Rock Hill and Myrtle Beach to get started today.