South Carolina Workers' Compensation Basic Overview
This guide will help you understand the South Carolina Workers' Compensation system on a very basic level.
I just got hurt on the job. Now What?The most important thing you must do after you get hurt on the job is immediately report your injury to your employer. In South Carolina, you have 90 days from the date of your accident to notify your employer of your work related injury. Failure to do so may prevent you from being able to pursue a claim to receive benefits.
Additionally, you need to receive medical attention as soon as possible after your work related injury. Your health and recovery should be your primary focus after you are hurt on the job. Getting the right treatment for your injury as early as possible is absolutely critical to ensure that you are able to get back to work and doing the things you love.
Is my injury a work related injury? If so, what kind of injuries are covered?Under South Carolina Workers' Compensation Law, an injury is defined as "an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment." The facts and circumstances of your injury will ultimately determine whether your injury will be covered. It is imperative that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your injury. Though an attorney is certainly not a doctor, an attorney can pull from their own experience, available evidence, and existing law to help you understand whether or not you may have sustained a work related injury.
Injuries "arising out of and in the course of employment" come in many different forms. Physical injuries, repetitive stress injuries, occupational diseases, and mental health injuries are all types of injuries that you can potentially receive workers' compensation benefits for. Again, an experienced attorney can walk you through each step of your claim and advise you on your best course of action to deal with your particular situation.
My claim has been accepted. What kind of benefits are provided?In South Carolina, injured workers are entitled to receive benefits that cover medical expenses/treatment, lost wages, and long-term disability. Unfortunately, disputes frequently arise between an injured worker and the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. Examples of common disputes include, but are not limited to: the amount or type of lost wage coverage you will receive; the amount or type of medical coverage that you will be approved to receive; an overall impairment rating on one or more parts of the body; end of claim settlement/award amounts, and many more.
It is incredibly difficult to navigate the entire process without an experienced attorney by your side. You must remember, insurance carriers are trying to facilitate and finalize a claim for as little money out of their own pocket as they possibly can. Insurance carriers have dealt with thousands, if not millions, of workers' compensation claims, while this might be your first time dealing with any kind of legal situation. The odds of the insurance companies treating you in a fair and reasonable manner are very slim if you decide to handle your claim on your own.
I know I should talk with an attorney, but I don't think I can afford one!The biggest thing you can do to help alleviate the stress, anxiety, and fear of dealing with a workers' compensation claim by yourself is to consult with an experienced, local workers' compensation attorney. In most cases, attorneys do not charge a consultation fee to evaluate your claim. If you decide to hire an attorney to handle your claim, their fee for handling the claim comes out of the overall award that you receive at the conclusion of your claim. Additionally, a lawyer will not typically charge you any fees directly that you have to come up with out of your own pocket while the claim is in progress. Most importantly, a good claimant's lawyer and law firm won't charge you anything if you do not recover any money in the end.