South Carolina law requires employers to file workers’ compensation claims when one of their employees is injured. Ideally, this process is straightforward. However, in practice, only some cases progress smoothly. Because the insurance company’s primary goal is to pay as little as possible, it complicates the process. Some employers may even refuse to file claims, forcing injured employees to do it on their own. This post discusses why your employer may refuse to file, how you can overcome common challenges, and how a seasoned South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help you solve the puzzle.
Why Would an Employer Refuse to File a Claim?
Workers’ compensation is meant to cover the following:
- Compensation for permanent disability.
- Replacing lost income if victims cannot work for more than seven days.
- Associated costs of treating the injury.
Employers with four or more regular employees must have insurance. Given this requirement, it may surprise many to learn that some South Carolina employers refuse to request compensation when someone gets hurt.
Some reasons they provide for not filing claims after an injury include:
- You are exaggerating. If the employer believes that an employee is overstating the impact of their injuries, they may refuse to file a claim. If this happens to you, remember it’s not just their word against yours. You can claim damages directly from the workers’ compensation commission if you have proof of your injuries.
- Your injuries are not work-related. You may need to prove that your injuries were work-related, especially if the injuries occurred off-site. For instance, if your job involves running errands and you get hurt, you may claim compensation. After all, when the injury occurred, you were carrying out your duties as an employee.
- There is insufficient proof of injuries. It is always wise to record your injuries, medical expenses, and communication with your employer on the subject. If they deny your claim, you’ll have evidence to support your story.
- You had pre-existing conditions that caused the injuries. If an accident at work worsens a pre-existing condition, you may still deserve payment.
- You are an independent contractor. Employees should be wary of employers who misclassify them as independent contractors. This loophole may allow a company to deny compensation to an injured person who is, for all other intents and purposes, acting as an employee of the company.
Note: Employers often have pre-designated doctors for assessing work-related injuries, and going to a different doctor may hamper your chances of recovering damages.
What You Can Do If Your Employer Refuses to File a Claim
Fortunately, if you’ve been injured at work and your employer refuses to file a claim, you can file a claim directly with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
This process follows the following steps:
- Report your injuries to your supervisor and employer as soon as possible. You have up to 90 days from the day of the accident.
- Be sure to keep a record of all communications.
- File the workers’ compensation claim within two years of the injury’s occurrence using the appropriate form to request a hearing. Form 50 is for victims who sustained injuries, while Form 52 is for injuries resulting in death. Family members of the deceased should submit this request to begin the damage recovery process.
- Attend any informal conferences and formal hearings with the commissioner.
Video: What to Expect at a Workers’ Comp Hearing in South Carolina
- You can appeal the decision if you feel the compensation awarded is less than you deserve, or the commissioner denies the claim entirely. A panel of commissioners will review your appeal.
Remember that temporary employees may still qualify for compensation.
Why You Need a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
South Carolina law allows victims to file a workers’ compensation claim if, for whatever reason, their employer fails to comply with their request. Also, retaining a lawyer is not a requirement for filing a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina. You can represent yourself through the procedure. However, the filing process is complicated, and meeting deadlines while you are healing can be overwhelming. Rules for countering the employer’s decision are also complex and confusing for most victims.
The following are just a few advantages of having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side:
- Your attorney handles the paperwork and keeps track of all the deadlines.
- They will review your settlement offer to ensure you receive what you deserve.
- An attorney will represent you at the hearings.
- A knowledgeable attorney can help evaluate your injuries to ensure your compensation accounts for any potential future expenses related to treating your injury.
Contact Our South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you’ve been injured at work or have lost a loved one because of a work-related injury, our lawyers at Joye Law Firm want to help you recover medical expenses, lost income, and get the benefits you deserve.
Contact us at our North Charleston office to get started on your claim today.