If you suffer an injury on the job, you may be entitled to benefits to cover your medical costs and lost wages. Knowing your rights is the key to making sure you get all the benefits that you deserve. A workers’ compensation lawyer serving Aiken, SC can answer your questions and help you file your claim.
Call George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers now at (888) 612-7001 for a free consultation about your workers’ compensation claim.
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Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In South Carolina, most employers with four or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. You do not have to prove your employer was at fault to get workers’ compensation benefits. If you suffer an injury while working, develop a condition from your work, or contract an occupational disease, workers’ compensation can cover your related medical bills and lost wages.
Notify Your Employer About Your Injury
If you suffer an injury at work, notify your supervisor as soon as possible. You usually have 90 days to give notice in South Carolina but prompt notice is best. Your employer may have a particular procedure for giving notice of an injury. If so, follow that procedure. If not, try to give your notice both verbally and in writing and keep a copy of your notice for your records.
Get Medical Attention for Your Injury
After you report your injury, your employer will normally send you to a doctor. At this point it is usually best to go to the doctor authorized by your employer; otherwise workers’ compensation may not cover your medical bills.
Did you suffer an injury on the job? Learn about your rights by contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Aiken, SC today.
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Getting Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Your Work Injury
South Carolina law outlines workers’ compensation benefits. If you miss more than seven days of work because of your injury, you can start collecting temporary disability benefits. These wage payments are called Temporary Total Disability (TTD) and have some additional rules:
- If you miss over 14 days of work because of your injury, your TTD wage payments will then cover the first 7 days that you missed.
- Your TTD benefits are calculated using a formula set forth by South Carolina law. Injured workers usually get around two-thirds of your gross weekly wages up to the state’s maximum level of payment. This is called your Compensation Rate.
- TTD benefits generally continue until you return to work or until you reach maximum medical improvement, which is usually when your doctor releases you from treatment.
If you return to work on light duty and are earning less than you did before your injury, you may be eligible to receive part of the difference between the average weekly wages you earned before your injury and what you are now making on your new light duty pay scale.
Once you reach maximum medical improvement, your doctors will be asked to determine if you have a permanent disability. If you are found to have a permanent injury, the doctor will typically assign you a permanent impairment rating or provide permanent physical restrictions. You will then be eligible to claim permanent disability benefits:
- If your injury is to a body part, such as a leg or foot, you get permanent specific disability benefits based on a calculation which includes the value of that body part and your compensation rate. South Carolina assigns a set number of weeks as the value for certain body parts. For example, a hand is assigned 185 weeks. If you are determined to have a 20 percent specific disability to the hand, that determination would translate to 20 percent of 185 weeks multiplied by your Compensation Rate.
- In other severe cases, including workers who have been determined to have lost the use of more than one body part, such as the loss of two legs or the loss of a leg and an arm, may be entitled to up to a maximum of 500 weeks of disability benefits.
- If your injuries render you a paraplegic or quadriplegic, however, or if they include severe physical brain damage, you would not be capped at 500 weeks, and would instead be entitled to permanent total disability benefits for your lifetime.
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Challenging the Denial of Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation cases may seem simple at first glance, but there are many different reasons why your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier may try to deny your claim. These reasons may include when:
- The employer claims that you did not give timely notice of the injury.
- The employer claims that you were intoxicated at the time of the accident, which contributed to your injury.
- The employer claims that the injury occurred when you were not at work or engaged in work duties.
- The employer claims that an underlying medical condition (such as arthritis) and not your work was the cause of your current injury.
If the insurance carrier denies your claim, you must file with the Workers’ Compensation Commission to have your case heard and decided by a workers’ compensation commissioner. A workers’ compensation lawyer serving Aiken, SC will know what language to include in this form. After filing, the commission will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant your claim.
How will the workers’ compensation lawyer prepare for the hearing?
- Our lawyers will investigate your case and know what is required to prove your claim.
- Our lawyers will read your medical records and will identify which records support your claim, and will work to get second opinions if needed, to establish how your work caused your injury.
- Our lawyers will depose the employer’s doctor or other witnesses to your injury to discover weaknesses in the insurance carrier’s position.
If the commission denies your claim after your hearing, we can request a review or reconsideration of the decision by filing an appeal on your behalf.
Is your employer or its insurance carrier refusing to pay your medical bills and accept your claim for an injury you suffered on the job? Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers now to fight for your rights.
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Retaliation for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Under the South Carolina law, your employer cannot fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. You can file a lawsuit and recover damages if your employer terminates you or retaliates against you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim. That being said, employers can hire a replacement to cover your job duties while you are injured and it is possible that your same job may not be waiting for you when you return. It is important to talk to a lawyer if this occurs as you may be able to prove that you no longer have a job for improper reasons.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Someone Other Than Your Employer
You cannot sue your employer to get personal injury damages for your work injury. Your only remedy in these situations is to proceed through workers’ compensation. You can, however, file a lawsuit against a third party who is responsible for your injury. For example, if you are a delivery driver on the roadways driving between clients and are hit by another car, you are able to collect your workers’ compensation benefits through your employer and then you may also file a claim against the other driver’s auto insurance company.
Unlike your workers’ compensation claim, your recovery in the third-party action is not limited. You can recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain, and suffering. If your employer has issued payment for these items through the workers’ compensation process, they will then be reimbursed part or all of what they paid in benefits from your third party settlement. It is very important, however, to ensure you do not lose some or all of your workers’ compensation benefits by accepting a third party settlement prematurely.
Did you suffer an injury at work or contract an occupational disease? Call a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Aiken, SC with George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers at (888) 612-7001 for a free consultation.
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