What Should I Do After Suffering an Injury?
After suffering a workplace injury in South Carolina, you need to make sure that you do two things right away: get yourself medical attention and report your injury to your employer. Certainly, nothing is more important than your health. Emergency medical treatment always comes first. After things have settled down, you need to make sure that you report your injury to your supervisor. Under South Carolina workers’ compensation law, you have an obligation to report your work injury to your employer within 90 days. If you fail to do so, you may lose out on your ability to seek benefits. There are cases where supervisors will try to talk injured workers out of reporting their injuries. This is illegal. If your employer is attempting to intimidate you into not reporting your claim, call a lawyer immediately.
What Qualifies as a Worker’s Comp Injury?
Work injuries come in numerous different forms. The definition of an ‘injury’ for the purposes of South Carolina’s workers’ compensation law is quite broad. In fact, you could potentially receive workers’ compensation benefits for:
- Physical injuries;
- Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs);
- Occupational diseases; and
- Mental health injuries.
Beyond establishing that you have a qualifying injury, you must also establish that the injury actually happened at work. This is not always as easy or clear cut as it might seem. South Carolina uses the ‘course and scope’ of employment standard to assess this issue. An injury does not actually need to occur on your employer’s job site to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, it must simply have occurred within the ‘course and scope’ of your job. South Carolina defines course and scope as a worker activity which is done in furtherance of the interests of their employer.
What Workers Compensation Benefits Am I Entitled to Receive?
In South Carolina, there are several different types of workers’ compensation benefits. Specifically, injured workers may be entitled to benefits for:
- Medical Expenses: South Carolina workers’ compensation will cover the full cost of your necessary medical treatment. This is a very important benefit for injured workers. Of course, in many cases, recovering entitled medical benefits is not so easy. While 100 percent of necessary medical treatment is legally covered, disputes frequently arise. Disputes occur for two main reasons: disagreement over what is ‘necessary’ and disagreement over whether the injury is work-related. We all know medical costs can be incredibly expensive. Injured workers deserve to have all of these costs covered, and an attorney can help you make that happen.
- Lost wages: Many injured workers are forced to miss time on the job as a result of their condition. South Carolina provides income replacement benefits for workers in this unfortunate situation. Under South Carolina law, injured workers are entitled to two thirds of their average weekly wage for the last four quarters. Though, there is also a maximum benefit of $784.03 per week (for the year 2016). Higher income earners could be affected by this maximum limit.
- Long-term Disability: In cases involving very serious injuries or death, permanent disability benefits may be available. In total disability or death cases, benefits can last for up to 500 weeks. These cases are extremely complex; as such, if your loved one suffered a total disability or was killed in a workplace accident, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
What are Some Common Workers’ Comp Claims Mistakes?
Unfortunately, far too many injured South Carolina workers miss out on their full and fair workers’ compensation benefits because they make critical mistakes that harm their own claim. Do not let your claim get denied because of an error. Please consider the following list of mistakes that you need to avoid:
- Failing to report your injury within the appropriate time frame;
- Not seeking professional medical treatment;
- Making sloppy mistakes on your workers’ comp application;
- Misrepresenting your injury in any way; and
- Failing to contact a qualified attorney.
My Claim Was Denied, What Can I Do?
Having your workers’ compensation claim denied can be an extraordinarily frustrating and stressful experience. The good news is that you are not out of options. You can appeal the denial. The first thing you need to do is to understand exactly why your claim was denied. South Carolina workers’ compensation claims can be denied for a number of different reasons. Three of the most common reason claims are denied are:
- There is a dispute over whether or not your injury actually occurred on the job;
- There is a dispute over the severity of your injury; or
- There is a procedural issue with your application, perhaps lack of evidence or late filing.
You should have received an official letter stating exactly why your claim was denied. Upon receiving this letter, you should get it in the hands of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Your lawyer can help you start the appeals process.
How Does the Appeals Process Work?
The appeals process starts with a hearing in front of one of the South Carolina workers’ compensation commissioners. At this hearing, all parties to the claim will have an opportunity to present their case. Essentially, this type of hearing works like an speedy, informal version of a trial. If necessary, you can appeal the decision that is made at this hearing as well. This starts by requesting a review by a panel of commissioners and it could eventually lead to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Ultimately, your appeal will only be successful if you can make a well supported case that the initial decision was made in error. In order to do this, it is critically important that you are fully prepared for the appeal hearing. If you are appealing, you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Experience counts when choosing a lawyer. Our South Carolina workers’ compensation litigation team at Joye Law Firm has nearly 250 years of combined experience. Our commitment to our clients is paramount.Every case is unique. We cannot guarantee a specific result for you. But we can promise honesty, loyalty, communication and hard work. You can learn about the workers’ compensation benefits that Joye Law Firm has obtained for clients by clicking on the Our Results tab on our home page.
Want to learn more about workers’ compensation in South Carolina? Click on the following topics:
- The 7 Most Common Mistakes When Filing Your Comp Claim. This section explains some of the errors injured workers make – from failing to report their injury to assuming they don’t have a claim because they didn’t miss any time from work.
- Reasons for Denial of Benefits. It’s not always easy to get approval for workers’ comp benefits. Sometimes there is a legitimate reason for a rejection. But often the right lawyer can help produce an excellent outcome.
- Common Workplace Injuries. An on-the-job injury can happen anywhere, not just in high-risk occupations. This section lists the categories of frequent injuries and accidents.
- How to File for Workers’ Compensation. South Carolina workers’ compensation claims are subject to strict deadlines and formal procedures. Failure to follow the rules to the letter could mean your rights to benefits are forever lost.
- Chronic Pain and Workers’ Compensation. Workers who suffer chronic pain as a result of conditions on the job or a workplace injury are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, these cases are often challenging, so it especially important that victims work with an attorney.
- South Carolina Third Party Work Injury Claims. While workers’ compensation is generally the sole remedy for injured employees, there are some limited exceptions. For example, if you were injured on the job due to the action of a third party, meaning not you or your employer, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.