Yale’s law school library has begun a trial of using Monty, the therapy dog, to help law students cope with the stress of law school. Of course, when the students graduate, they will actually have to buy a dog.
It is a good idea though, as I cannot stay grim when I am kicking the soccer ball for my dog, Lucky, to catch and thrash around as though he had just saved me from the ball. You may feel like thrashing something when you receive a fine from the SCWCC. Here are some ideas to help you limit that particular stress in your life.
Double the Fine, Double the Fun! §42-19-30 gives the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission authority to issues fines from $10-$100 for failure of the employer or carrier to submit proper forms, records and reports. However, § 42-3-105 gives the Commission the power to double the amount of fines and penalties for “each violation of the Workers’ Compensation law.” On April 1, 2009, the Commission voted to double all fines.
The Commission has made several suggestions to help you avoid fines. You can communicate with the Claims Department via Form 18, which includes a section to send a memo to the Commission. If you cannot file a report in time, ask for an extension from the Commission, and explain what problem you are having. For example, if the employee does not send the Form 19 back, send a memo to the Commission explaining the problem and requesting the Commission’s assistance. If you let the Commission know you are having a problem, the Commission will work with you. Also, before you file a Form 19 closing a file, make sure all the Forms that should have been filed during the course of the claim have been filed. Filing a Form 19 results in a WCC employee reviewing the file. Missing forms will result in the issuance of fines. If you file the necessary forms before the Commission realizes you did not, you might avoid the fine. Greg Line, Director of Claims at the Commission, offered the following suggestions:
Request an open list to see which files we are showing open and the carrier is showing closed. Then get the Commission the correct forms to close its file.
Remember that anytime you file a First Report of Injury with the Commission, it establishes a file, and you are required to file a Form 18 six months from the date of accident and every six months thereafter until the file is closed at the Commission. The Commission does NOT have medical only claims, so do not file a First Report of Injury unless you really want that claim established here. (Not every injury requires the filing of the First Report. If medical bills exceed $2,500 or there is compensable lost time or permanency, the First Report must be filed with the Commission.)
The Commission sends all of the mail to the address that the carrier gives the Commission. Therefore, it may not go to the third-party administrator’s address. Make sure you have the carrier forward the mail to you, if you are a third-party administrator.
If you want a copy of a stamped form back to your office, send a self addressed stamped envelope with two copies of the form.
This article is intended to help you draw upon our Workers’ Comp team’s knowledge and serve as a quick reference on workers’ comp claims in South Carolina.