The South Carolina Bar states that any worker may qualify for workers’ compensation if they are injured while on the job, so long as their employer is required by law to insure their employees. Keep reading to learn more about who qualifies for workers’ compensation and what you have to do to get your money.
Workers’ Compensation Covers a Wide Range of Injuries
Every job comes with its own sets of risks. Your employer is supposed to mitigate these risks as much as possible through proper instruction, training, and use of safety equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides standards and guidelines for multiple industries, for instance.
Unfortunately, not every employer is so responsible. Depending on your occupation, you may encounter any or all of the following hazards on a daily basis.
- Falling objects
- Slip, trip, or fall hazards
- Falls from heights
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Injuries caused by power tools
You may be eligible for workers’ compensation for any number of physical injuries, such as:
- Head injuries/traumatic brain injuries
- Back strain
- Broken bones
- Burns from fire, electricity, or chemicals
- Cuts or lacerations
Some injuries may heal with time. If your injury is treatable, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation temporary disability payments until you are well enough to go back to work. If your injuries result in a chronic condition or permanent disability, you might be able to collect permanent disability benefits. And in the worst case scenario, if you lost a loved one because of an on-the-job injury, you may be able to collect workers’ compensation on their behalf.
For a free legal consultation, call 864-326-3333
Most Companies Are Required to Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
According to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, any company with four or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance. This includes workers who are family members or who only work part-time.
It may also include subcontractors with any number of employees, if the company that hires them requires the subcontractor to carry such insurance. It does not matter if a company is for-profit or not-for-profit. They are still required to insure their employees.
That said, there are some big exceptions. S.C. Ann. § 42-1-360 allows certain industries, such as agricultural or railway companies, to not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Therefore, workers in this industry are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers themselves are not the only people who may receive workers’ comp. If your loved one passed away due to their on-the-job injury, you can apply for workers’ compensation, but only if you were financially dependent on the deceased.
How to Get Workers’ Compensation
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission states that you must report your injury to your employer within 90 days. While this is the deadline, you should immediately report your work injury to your supervisor and make sure that they document the claim in writing, such as an injury report, but at a minimum through an email or text message. Your employer may then file a workers’ compensation claim on your behalf. If they do not do so for any reason, you can file a claim yourself through your attorney. It is critical that you ask the employer to provide treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. If you must go to the ER or family doctor, do so but report the treatment immediately and request that your employer provide follow up treatment.
If your claim is approved, you will receive medical treatment deemed necessary to aid in your recovery and reduce the period of your disability. This may include doctor’s visits, surgery, medication, and physical therapy. Workers’ compensation will also cover related mileage expenses to and from visits more than 10 miles.
In addition, you will receive 66 2/3 percent of your normal salary (Average Weekly Wage) every week until a doctor says you are able to return to work. All of the doctors you see will be chosen by the insurance company, unless you get their permission to see someone else or you pay for another doctor out of your own pocket. Since the doctors are selected and paid by the insurance company, they tend to be very conservative in their treatment and they have some incentive to attempt to return you to work before you may be fully able to return. This is why you need an advocate as early in the process as possible.
You can continue to collect workers’ compensation until you get the go-ahead to return to work. If you disagree with the doctor’s decision to send you back to work, you can request a second opinion, and if that is denied, it is up to you and your lawyer to request a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
When you apply for a hearing, your case may either go directly to a hearing or go first to mediation depending on the type of claim. As the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission explains, mediation requires you and the other party (your employer or their insurance company) to sit down with a qualified mediator. The mediator will try to help you come to an agreement. Only if mediation fails does your case move on to a hearing.
At the hearing, you and your employer both get a chance to explain and submit evidence in support of your claims. A workers’ compensation commissioner will then make a decision.
No matter what line of work you are in, you are entitled to a safe working environment. Hammack Law Firm can help you figure out if you are among those who qualify for workers’ compensation and, if you do, how to get your money. Call our office at 864-326-3333 for a free consultation. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that we do not get paid until you do.
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