What To Do Immediately If You're Hurt at Work
If you're injured on the job in South Carolina, what you do immediately after your injury may determine the success, or failure, of your workers' compensation claim. This guide is meant to offer suggestions on how to maximize your chances of success in pursuing a claim.
Notify Your Supervisor of Your AccidentToo many workers who suffer legitimate injuries at work cause themselves unnecessary problems in pursuing a workers' compensation by failing to report the accident immediately. You might think that it's reasonable, especially for what you initially believe is a minor injury, to wait a few hours - or a few days - to see if you'll get better. Far too often, however, a delay in reporting an accident, no matter how well intentioned the delay, gives the insurance company an excuse to deny what would otherwise be a legitimate claim. It is crucial that, immediately after a work injury, you seek out your supervisor (a co-worker isn't sufficient) and notify him or her of your accident. Be as specific as you can, both in terms of how the accident happened and what injuries you suffered.
Fill Out an Accident ReportOnce you report your accident to your supervisor, ask that he or she fill out an accident report. Documentation in a workers' compensation claim is everything. Too often, when asked whether an employee reported an accident, the supervisor replies, "Not to me he didn't." A written accident report makes it impossible for a supervisor to deny that he or she was told about a work accident. It's also important that you document in the accident report the body parts you injured in your accident. Don't report only the part of your body which hurts the worst. Report all body parts which are causing you pain or discomfort. Insurance companies often authorize treatment for only those body parts about which an injured worker complains immediately after his or her accident. Finally, sign the accident report and ask for a copy.
Get Medical AttentionDocumentation in a workers' compensation claim is everything. There is no better way to document 1) that you were in an accident at work; 2) how the accident occured; and 3) what parts of your body you injured in the accident than to go to the doctor and give all this information to the doctor and/or his or her nurse. Getting medical attention has the extra added benefit of starting you down the road to recovery. After you've notified your supervisor of your work accident, ask him or her to send you to the doctor.
Decide Whether to Hire an AttorneyEvery injured worker in South Carolina has a right to represent himself or herself. An injured worker needs to be mindful, however, that the insurance company with whom he or she will be dealing will be represented by a seasoned adjuster and/or an experienced attorney. No one will cut an injured worker slack simply because he or she doesn't have an attorney. A rule of thumb you might want to consider...if you know as much about the workers' comp system as the adjuster and insurance company's attorney, you could probably represent yourself. If not, you might want to consider hiring an attorney of your own to protect your rights.