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S.C. to take up comp reforms in special session


COLUMBIA, S.C.--South Carolina lawmakers will adopt workers compensation reforms that include phasing out the state's second injury fund, streamlining the appeals process and eliminating a total disability presumption.

South Carolina lawmakers adjourned Thursday without adopting S.B. 332, but the General Assembly is expected to approve the measure in two weeks when it returns for a special session, according to the American Insurance Assn., which has been monitoring the reform bill.

Under the legislation, the second injury fund, which pays for treating aggravated injuries that had occurred at an employee's previous employer, would be phased out by 2013 and would cease considering claims for injuries occurring after June 2008. The bill also would require all workers comp appeals to bypass circuit court proceedings and go directly to the state's Court of Appeals.

The measure also eliminates a legal presumption of total and permanent disability when a worker suffers the loss of at least 50% of the use of their back. Additionally, it establishes a definition of repetitive stress, and sets fines for employers and insurers that lie or commit fraud.