Worker’s Compensation Attorneys Charleston, South Carolina
South Carolina law requires any company who has more than four employees to carry worker’s compensation insurance. Also, Worker’s Compensation is a no-fault system, meaning it does not matter if you or your employer was at fault for the injury. You must report any injury that occurs on the job within 90 days of the accident. You then have a period of two years in which to file a claim. If your employer does not file the claim, you can do so yourself by completing the appropriate documentation. Also, if your employer denies your benefits from the injury you received on the job you may file a claim. There is a seven day waiting period before any worker’s compensation benefits will take effect. If you are out of work for 14 days then you will receive compensation for the first seven days that you were off the job. You will need a doctor’s permission to return to work. If you feel the doctor is in error, even if he has only cleared you for light duty, you have the right to request a hearing which will be heard in sixty days. If you are released to light duty you must take the position offered or you may risk losing all benefits. If you have a non-surgical scar or impairment that can be seen from more than four feet away you can request an informal committee review. If you travel more than ten miles round trip to see the doctor the insurance company has assigned to your case you may be entitled to travel expenses at the same rate a state employee earns when he/she travels. If you do not agree with the insurance company doctor you may ask for a second opinion using the proper documentation.
The following is some additional information about workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina and why it is always a wise idea to consult with an attorney following a workplace injury.
Common Workplace Injuries
Some occupations like being a firefighter or a police officer are obviously more dangerous than others but there are certain workplace injuries that are very common regardless of your occupation. No matter what your line of work, safety should always be your primary concern. Whether you walk a beat, work the line, or crunch numbers at a desk, take the time to think about how you can improve safety conditions at your workplace, stay alert to danger, and stay safe and healthy on the job.
Most workplace injuries are preventable, but that doesn’t stop them from occurring at an alarming rate. People on the job are just that – people. People get tired, distracted, overly confident, rushed, and all the other conditions that we’re all susceptible to. Mix this with heavy workloads, competing priorities, and imperfect working conditions, and accidents are bound to happen. And they do. Education is the key to decreasing injuries on the job, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to foster safe working conditions and to implement safer work practices.
Accidents continue to happen, nevertheless, and there are several that consistently top the charts:
- Overexertion injuries are the most common – and the costliest – workplace injuries; they include those injuries caused by lifting, pulling, carrying, pushing, throwing, and holding heavy objects in the course your work day. Careful monitoring of working conditions and proper physical training is imperative for reducing such injuries.
- Slip and fall injuries are often the result of unsafe but unseen conditions, such as a wet spot or unchecked debris on the floor in the work area. Careful grounds checks and cleanup routines that everyone stays involved with can help reduce these injuries.
- Injuries caused by falls from elevated places can be extremely dangerous and include falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolding, and tall machinery. Consistent safety training and adequate safety gear are paramount to minimizing these injuries.
- Injuries caused by falling objects can also be extremely dangerous. Constant vigilance regarding the work environment and designated hard hat zones are crucial.
- Repetitive motion injuries are injuries that are caused over time when damage slowly builds and is ultimately identified as injurious. Unlike the more physical injuries, repetitive motion injuries can be caused by something as innocuous as working at a computer all day. Maintaining healthy posture, incorporating regular work breaks, and employing ergonomic options can all help.
- Injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are considered workplace injuries if you drive while on the job. Thorough and consistent safe-driving training and education is imperative.
- Injuries caused by machine accidents are surprisingly common and can be extremely dangerous. Following safety training and protocols, taking regular breaks, and implementing consistent safety checks are all important precautionary measures.
Injuries on the job happen. Do your best to minimize accidents and injuries by staying educated about workplace safety, by remaining vigilant about maintaining a safe workplace, and by staying alert and minimizing your distractions. If you have been injured on the job, an experienced attorney with expertise in worker’s compensation law can help guide you through the difficult time and help exact the compensation that you deserve.
The Process of Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Because injured workers already must deal with medical visits, therapy, and other treatments, you would think that insurers would make filing a claim for benefits a relatively simple and stress-free process. While some claims are approved without any hassle, other injured workers have a much different experience. The last thing you want to deal with is an adversarial or difficult insurance company and a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer can help you through the entire claims process.
If your employer decides not to file a claim on your behalf when you report your injury, you will need to file a claim directly with the Workers’ Compensation Commission for yourself. There are specific forms and procedures required to file a proper claim and any omissions can delay the process or even result in a denial. In addition, if you miss a deadline for a claim, you may lose your right to any benefits at all. An attorney can help to ensure you have all the documentation you need and that all forms are filled out completely and accurately, as well as in compliance with any deadlines.
Was Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Denied?
All too often, workers who are certain they deserve benefits from workers’ compensation are shocked to learn that their claim has been denied in part or even completely. You should not lose hope in this situation, however, as it is possible to successfully appeal a denial. An attorney can help you throughout the appeal process in the following ways and more:
- Determine the reason for the denial
- Provide evidence to support that your injury was work-related
- Provide evidence that the treatments you received were necessary
- Combat denials based on claims of pre-existing conditions
- Help justify the amount of time you stayed home from work
- Work to proof that your accident caused a disability as defined by South Carolina workers’ compensation law
The appeals process is complex and involves proving your case at a hearing. It is important to have qualified legal representation at such hearings and throughout your appeal.
Have a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Review Your Settlement Offer
Just because you claim is approved does not necessarily mean you will always receive the full amount of benefits that you deserve for your injuries and losses. This is especially the case with claims that involve longer-lasting benefits. Instead of paying regular benefits over an extended period of time, a workers’ compensation insurer will likely offer you a settlement of a lump sum payment. It is critical to have an attorney review any settlement offers before you accept them.
Settlement offers may seem like a lot of money because it may constitute years of estimated benefits. Many people may see a larger amount of money and may be inclined to immediately accept the offer. However, these offers can be low and may not be adequate to cover all of the medical costs and lost income you will incur in the future due to your injury. However, once you accept a settlement, your claim from that particular injury is closed and you will not have the right to go back and request additional funds once you realize the settlement was insufficient.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will review your settlement offer and compare it with your estimated future expenses. If the offer is too low, your attorney can negotiate with your insurer to try to obtain a more appropriate offer for you.
Contact an Experienced South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney To Discuss Your Claim Today
When dealing with worker’s compensation there are many deadlines and there are many specific rules that must be met in order for your case to properly be presented to the members of a hearing panel. A hearing is the way to resolve problems between you and your employer’s representative. Because their representative will be very knowledgeable about workers compensation you need someone on your side who is also familiar with the law. If you or someone you love has been injured at work in Charleston, South Carolina call the Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C., we are on your side and want to help.