Your work environment should be a safe place in order for you to complete your duties effectively. Like many workers, you commute to work each day with the expectation that you will be safe and free of injuries. Unfortunately, workplace injuries are far more common than they should be.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 2.7 million workers suffered non-fatal injuries, and 4,764 workers suffered a fatality. If you have been injured in your workplace, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible who can help you get access to the resources you need to restore your life.
Knowing you qualify for workers’ comp insurance is one thing. Securing the compensation you need is another. Let the workers’ compensation attorneys at HawkLaw help you through the process. Call us today at 888-HAWKLAW to request a free consultation.*
What Is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Under South Carolina state law, worker’s compensation insurance is a type of business owners’ liability insurance program mandated by the state. Businesses must meet specific standards, such as employing four or more employees; there are a few other exclusions as well.
A workers’ comp insurance policy basically serves a dual purpose. It makes certain injured workers get their medical care paid for, along with a portion of the income they have lost while out of work due to the injury. The other purpose of this business insurance is that workers’ comp often protects employers from legal action taken by workers who were injured on the job.
Do You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?
What workers’ compensation pays directly depends upon each case. Employees who were physically injured or contracted an occupational disease at their job might qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Anyone who is hurt or gets sick on the job should ask themselves the following questions before filing a claim to consider their eligibility.
Did the Injury Occur Inside the Scope of Employment?
To be eligible under South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws, the injury you suffered (or illness contracted) must have occurred within the scope of your employment.
Did You Notify Your Employer Within the Timeframe?
South Carolina law is very specific when it comes to how injuries are reported. You must notify your employer by the deadline, which is 90 days from the date of injury. This factor is extremely important because if you miss this deadline, it directly affects your eligibility to file. Furthermore, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is two years, so it is vital to keep this in mind if you want to file a claim. Once filed, the case goes to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, which is the state’s workers’ compensation board. This group determines the outcome of any workers’ compensation claim.
What Workers’ Compensation Does Not Cover
Receiving a workers’ compensation award is not a given for every situation. Claims are often denied for many different reasons. The following are common occurrences not covered under workers’ comp.
Workers who are intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of injury will find their claim declared ineligible, and they will be unable to receive payments to cover expenses associated with their injuries.
Workers are expected to behave professionally and with workplace safety in mind. Individuals who injure themselves while involved in horseplay will not be covered by workers’ comp benefits to pay for their medical bills or other health care expenses.
Filing a Claim After Being Fired
If you are fired before you have filed a claim, you will be ineligible for benefits. That being said, your employer cannot fire you if you are out due to an injury if you filed while under their employment.
Independent Contractor Injury
Only direct employees are eligible to file for workers’ compensation. If you are an independent contractor, you cannot file for workers’ compensation coverage based on the worksite where you were injured, you will need to file under your own employer or through your own small business insurance carrier.
What Are the Most Common Types of Workplace Injuries?
Many different types of accidents leading to injury can occur in the workplace. The following are the most common. However, even if you suffer one of these types of injuries, this does not necessarily mean you will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Each case workers’ compensation insurance covers is different and is treated accordingly.
Slip and Fall
Slip and fall accidents are very common work-related injuries and are a top reason employees file workers’ compensation claims. These accidents can lead to head, neck, spine, and other back injuries, along with lacerations, broken bones and fractures, sprains, strains, and pulled muscles. Slips and falls often occur due to wet or oily surfaces, loose rugs, debris on floors, poor lighting, uncovered cables, and uneven walking surfaces.
Anytime a driver or passenger sets foot in a vehicle, there is a potential for accidents. In the workplace, common motor vehicle-related accidents include being struck or run over, falling from a vehicle, being crushed by a vehicle, or being hit by objects falling from a vehicle.
Employees in certain industries work with heavy machinery in factories, on farms, and at construction sites, to name a few. Machinery-related accidents can occur when equipment is defective, user error, or if machines are not properly maintained. Workers should always follow directives exactly and use safety gear.
Repetitive action injuries, which are also referred to as repetitive trauma, are very common ways people get hurt on the job. However, they are more difficult to prove as they must fall under a very specific finding by a medical professional. Many different fields involve workers using repetitive motion activities which can result in crippling and/or debilitating pain, impacting their ability to perform their job and even activities outside of work.
What Are the Benefits of Workers’ Comp in South Carolina?
Workers who receive workers’ compensation after suffering a work injury can expect the following benefits should the claim be successful.
Chances are your work injury may involve a number of specialists, surgery, physical therapy, medication, and other types of medical expenses and rehabilitative treatments. Obtaining compensation to cover these mounting costs can go a long way towards getting the right treatment you need to heal. To obtain full medical coverage for any impairments, remember to keep all invoices and receipts for medical treatments.
Worker’s compensation policies never provide 100% coverage for lost income after an injury, but they do cover a percentage of weekly wages. In South Carolina, injured employees can obtain 66 or 2/3% of an average weekly wage. To determine the amount you can receive each week, the state will evaluate your average weekly payments from the previous year.
Unfortunately, some accidents are catastrophic and tragically lead to a fatality. If an employee suffers a fatality onsite or as the result of life-threatening injuries sustained while on the job, workers’ compensation coverage offers death benefits for the dependents and family members left behind, along with money to pay for funeral expenses.
Permanent Injury Compensation
If your injury compromises your ability to work, you may receive full or partial permanent disability payments. To determine the amount you receive to cover your injury, the adjustors will consider your individual needs and also provide 66% or two-thirds of your average wages.
Sadly, some workplace accidents leave an employee permanently unable to return to work. In the event an employee needs retraining to get access to the same or a different job, workers’ compensation will cover all the costs of retraining and rehabilitation.
Access to workers’ compensation insurance coverage is not automatic, you do have to report the accident to your employer and then file your claim in a timely fashion. It is essential to make sure all forms and documentation are submitted correctly.
Why Hire a South Carolina Workers’ Comp Attorney?
Dealing with the aftermath of a workplace accident can be frustrating. Not only are you injured and in pain, you now have to manage the claim itself in order to seek benefits, which can be a complex process. While you are eligible to pursue workers’ compensation in South Carolina, insurance companies do not usually offer you the best compensation package and, unfortunately, often even try to undercut the amount of money you might need to pay for medical expenses and treatments.
A South Carolina attorney knows the workers’ comp claim process and is highly familiar with the required steps to increase the chances of workers’ compensation paying an employee what they are entitled to receive. Your lawyer will know what documentation you need to bring, what to gather from your medical appointments, and, if needed, litigate your case should it go to trial.
Are You Anxious About the Injury You Received at Work?
Workplace safety is a reasonable expectation of all employees. Unfortunately, employers and their insurance adjusters do not always make decisions in the best interests of their employees in the event of an incident.
The compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys at HawkLaw are very well-versed in South Carolina workers’ comp coverage and all job-related laws. If you would like to request a free consultation,* call 888-HAWKLAW or complete our online contact form to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today.