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Sustaining an injury anywhere can be confusing and frightening. Injuries sustained while on the job are even more complex because they involve state workers’ compensation laws on top of personal injury legislation. Taking on a workers’ compensation claim on your own can lead to receiving less than your injuries warrant or worse – the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) denying your claim altogether. Workers’ compensation laws help injured workers, but hiring a personal injury attorney will ensure that someone is looking out for your best interests.
With more than 20 years of experience handling local workers’ compensation cases, our attorneys represent even the most complex workplace injury situations. Whether you fell from a scaffold and injured your spinal cord or developed an occupational disease while working in South Carolina, we can help. Find out what state laws say about workers’ compensation cases to understand more about the process and your rights as an employee.
After a workplace injury, the first question is typically, “Will workers’ compensation cover this?” As is the case in most states, South Carolina’s workers’ comp laws cover all injuries and illnesses attributable to a work-related accident or disease. This includes injuries sustained in the workplace as well as those during any job-related activity. For example, a pizza delivery person involved in a car accident during a delivery would qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Someone injured on the flight to a business-related conference may also file a workers’ comp claim.
For the SCWCC to accept a workers’ comp claim, the injury or illness must have occurred in the course and scope of employment. Workers’ compensation does not cover injuries sustained on a typical daily commute or any activities not related to work. In some cases, the SCWCC will deny a claim if an employer thinks the employee sustained the injury during an act of recklessness on the job. For example, if the employee was breaking a workplace rule or engaging in an act of horseplay at the time of injury, the SCWCC may deny the claim.
Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses related to diagnosing and treating injuries. This includes any hospital visits, scans, surgeries, and rehabilitation costs. Workers’ comp also covers any disabilities you might suffer due to your workplace injury. In South Carolina, workers’ comp disability benefit payments cover two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wages. Disability payments include any overtime, bonuses, and non-wage allowances you earned before your accident.
Our law firm sees a few common types of injuries in South Carolina. The construction industry is especially dangerous for workers. In 2014, one in five worker deaths were in the construction industry. Construction workers are at high risk of falls, electrocutions, objects striking them, and getting caught in or between equipment. Negligent drivers also endanger roadside construction workers, speeding through construction zones, and failing to pay attention. Other common on-the-job injuries and illnesses include:
Every workplace injury is different. Whether you suffer a physical, mental, or emotional injury while performing job-related tasks, don’t hesitate to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If the SCWCC denies your claim, consult an attorney to learn what to do from there.
The first thing to do after sustaining a workplace injury is to report the incident to your supervisor or employer. Failing to report your injury can lead to complications during the workers’ comp claim process. Letting a great deal of time pass between your injury and the report can be a red flag for illegitimate claims. In South Carolina, you have 90 days to notify your employer of an injury. You must provide written and oral communication of this information.
If you have an illness or injury that developed over time, your deadline for reporting your injury begins when you knew or reasonably should have known that work caused your injury. If you took time off work to see a doctor for your injury, the clock may start ticking at this date. Your employer will help you file an official workers’ compensation claim, and it should include the date, time, and location of your injury. Be as detailed as possible when describing how your injury occurred. If possible, include a list of witnesses. Don’t assume your employer will file your claim – follow up to ensure he/she has filed, or file Form 50 or 52 with the SCWCC yourself.
Seek medical attention for a workplace injury or illness as soon as possible after the accident. Your employer may select your doctor to provide injured worker medical treatment, but you may ask the insurance carrier to approve a change of doctors. If they deny your request, you can request a hearing with the SCWCC to authorize a change of physician. You should also seek a second opinion. Delaying treatment can work against you if you end up needing to defend your actions or take a denied claim to court. Keep track of your medical records related to the workplace injury, and take photos of the injury, if applicable. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan exactly to avoid accusations that your failure to follow orders exacerbated your injuries.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim is relatively straightforward. What happens afterward can lead to complexities and potential litigation. Your employer may fight your right to benefits, or the SCWCC may deny your legitimate claim. Many workplace injuries involve someone else’s negligence – a coworker or employer failing to act according to his or her duties. It’s wise to consult an attorney about your workers’ compensation claim before filing to ensure you’re acting within your best interests.
The Hawkins Law Firm offers legal counsel to any worker in the Spartanburg, Greenville, and Charleston, South Carolina, regions dealing with a workers’ compensation claim. We will work to help you recover lost wages due to a workplace injury, as well as monetary compensation for your medical treatments, wrongful termination, laborer injuries, disability payments, at-work vehicle accidents, and workplace fatalities.
You need to hire an attorney for your workers’ comp case in certain situations to ensure you receive the benefits your injuries deserve. It’s in your best interest to work with a workers’ compensation attorney in many circumstances. If any of the following is true in your case, contact us for help:
Regardless of the workers’ compensation situation you’re in, contact the Hawkins Law Firm for a consultation. Our workers’ compensation consultations are always free* and at no obligation – meaning you have nothing to lose from speaking with us about your claim. Your free consultation will usually run from 30 to 40 minutes, during which time we’ll review your workplace injury and claim. We’ll provide our professional opinion whether we believe legal representation will help your chances of success and you won’t be charged anything unless we win your case.*
Employers have an obligation to carry workers’ compensation insurance in South Carolina. Any company with at least four part-time or full-time employees must carry adequate workers’ comp insurance and a business cannot waive the requirement even by written agreement. The law counts most temporary workers as employees.
If a company hires independent contractors instead of employees, it does not have to provide workers’ compensation insurance to them. Independent contractors are not technically employees, because they employ themselves. South Carolina’s workers’ comp laws determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor by considering a number of factors, mainly based on the level of control the employer exercises. In South Carolina, workers’ comp doesn’t usually cover true independent contractors.
There are exceptions to South Carolina’s workers’ compensation insurance rules. Workers’ compensation insurance does not cover employees of certain railroads or federal government employees. If your employer doesn’t have insurance, report this negligence to the SCWCC Fraud Division and hire an attorney for help. If you aren’t sure of your employee status or if your employer has workers’ comp insurance, contact us.
The SCWCC may deny your workers’ compensation claim for a number of reasons. You may not have provided sufficient information regarding the injury or proof that you sustained the injury during a work-related activity. You may have reported your case too late, or your employer might not have submitted the proper paperwork. If the commission doesn’t allow your claim, you’ll receive notice via your employer. The notice will list the reasons for the denial.
Regardless of the reason for your claim denial, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision. The attorneys at the Hawkins Law Firm can help you resolve your denial through mediation to avoid the courtroom. During mediation, you will present evidence showing why you believe the SCWCC should accept your claim. Your attorney will help you gather the proper documentation to serve as evidence during mediation.
If mediation fails, we’ll request a hearing to appeal your denial with the SCWCC. A formal hearing with the commission is similar to a trial, with both parties presenting evidence and witnesses. A judge will make the final decision regarding your case. Always partner with an attorney if you need a hearing to settle your workers’ compensation case.
Contact the Hawkins Law Firm if you’re dealing with any type of workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina. Trust our attorneys to represent you competently and aggressively, no matter what twists and turns your case may take. Call 888-HAWKLAW to set up your free consultation* today.