While some occupations are certainly more dangerous than others, no one goes into work expecting to sustain a workplace injury. However, workplace accidents do happen in Columbia and across South Carolina, and that’s why there is a dedicated workers’ compensation system in place. Employees who work on construction sites or with heavy equipment or hazardous materials may be at higher risk of a dangerous workplace accident. Still, workplace injuries can just as easily happen from slips and falls at a grocery store.
When you’re injured at work, it’s important to have an understanding of what the workers’ compensation system in South Carolina allows for, such as what expenses are eligible for reimbursement, how much paid time you can get off work, and whether intangibles like pain and suffering are included. There are many misconceptions about what workers’ compensation is and what it does and does not cover. It’s important to get your information directly from a reputable source like the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission or an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
We’ve taken some time to pull together some of the most frequent questions we get from our clients about workers’ compensation and other facts and details that you need to know as you navigate this process. Keep in mind that this is just a brief overview and that you can get more information and a more detailed idea of how workers’ compensation applies to your case by contacting our firm.
Workers’ compensation is complex, but you don’t have to navigate the process alone. Our Columbia workers’ compensation lawyers understand South Carolina workers’ compensation guidelines and are able to offer a free consultation to review your case. A member of our team will talk to you about where your claim stands currently, what you can do if it is denied by your employer and whether you have any other legal options, such as filing an additional personal injury lawsuit.
What Kinds of Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
Our clients often come to us with questions about whether their injuries qualify for a workers’ compensation claim and the procedures for filing a claim. In general, there aren’t any specific requirements on the type of injury that qualifies for a workers’ compensation claim. It doesn’t have to meet a certain threshold for severity, and you don’t have to incur a specific amount of medical bills to be able to file a claim for a workplace injury in South Carolina.
Some common workplace injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Cuts and scrapes
- Head injuries
What Should I Do After I’m Injured at Work?
It’s important to know what to do after you’ve been injured at work because failing to follow the proper procedures could mean that your workers’ compensation claim is prolonged or denied entirely. Here are the steps you should take after you experience a workplace injury.
Immediately Notify Your Supervisor
Workplace injuries have to be officially reported to a supervisory staff member. In most cases, this can be your direct supervisor, anyone above them, or a dedicated medical team member, such as an on-site nurse. Telling a friend at work about the injury or mentioning it in passing to a member of the office staff isn’t likely to count.
Seek Medical Attention
Of course, it’s important that you seek medical attention immediately to ensure your own health and safety, but this is another crucial part of the workers’ compensation process. You are required to have your injury evaluated by an employer-approved medical professional. If your injury is not serious, it’s a good idea to find out what doctor or hospital you should go to to ensure it is able to be used for your workers’ compensation claim. If you need immediate medical attention, make sure to keep all of the records so you can show the approved doctor when you see them later on.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The next step is to file a workers’ compensation claim officially. Your employer will usually have a process for this, as they are required to file a report with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, but it’s important that you also file a report with the Commission. This is because it’s possible for your employer to fail to file the report or deny the report. You need to have a record of your own report with the Commission to ensure you are eligible to seek compensation later on. The Commission requires employees to file a workers’ compensation report within two years of the accident. Still, in general, it’s a good idea to file as soon as you have an accurate understanding of the extent of your injuries and how they may affect your job abilities later on.
Talk to an Attorney
Last but certainly not least, you will want to talk with a workers’ compensation attorney about your case and possible legal options. It’s important to note that you don’t have to wait until your claim is denied by your employer to seek legal counsel. The sooner you have an attorney involved and apprised of the situation, the sooner they can step in and take action if your employer denies your claim. In many cases, you can meet with an attorney for a free consultation so you can get a better idea of their services and your options without any financial obligation or cost on your part.
Why Would an Employer Deny a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Employers have the right to deny a workers’ compensation claim for a few specific reasons. The first is if workplace injuries didn’t actually occur at work. For example, an employee would not be able to have hurt their back at home and then come to work and claim that it happened on the job. This is why it’s very important to explain exactly what you think caused the injury and when the symptoms started when you meet with the doctor. An injury that had symptoms — even if they were less severe — prior to the workplace injury could be determined not actually to have happened at the workplace.
Another reason employers can deny a claim is if the employee isn’t actually injured. While this may seem obvious, it is possible for someone to experience pain or other symptoms and believe they are injured, only for a doctor not to be able to find a definitive injury.
The third, and one of the most common, reason for denial is if the employer believes that the employee caused the injury by behaving in a reckless manner or going against company safety policies. This also includes working while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other controlled substances.
It’s important to keep in mind that an employer denying a workers’ compensation claim doesn’t mean you are out of options. It is possible to appeal and deny, and a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you through this process.
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in South Carolina in Addition to a Workers’ Comp Claim?
While it is technically possible to file a personal injury lawsuit in addition to a workers’ compensation claim in South Carolina, it’s a complicated area of law and one that you will want to speak to a workers’ compensation attorney about. In general, workers’ compensation can provide money for lost wages and any medical bills and expenses that have resulted from the injury. However, workers’ compensation does not provide any monetary basis to make any claims for pain and suffering.
If you believe that your accident was caused by the willful actions of a specific party or the negligent actions of your workplace at large, it’s worth talking to an attorney about what your options may be. They can help you understand what the road forward would look like and how it may impact your workers’ compensation claim.
What Does an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Do?
Columbia workers’ compensation lawyers focus on helping injured workers navigate the workers’ compensation process in South Carolina. This could mean helping them understand whether they have a case, assisting them in filing the claim itself and being there to appeal if the employer denies the claim. Workers’ compensation is a great provision if you are injured on the job, but it’s not necessarily easy to navigate when you’re feeling 100 percent — let alone when you are injured and hurting.
An attorney can ensure that someone is looking out for your rights and interests and that you’re not alone in the process. If you decide you want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit as well, your attorney can assist you in filing the proper paperwork, understanding who to name as the defendant, and navigating other aspects, such as whether to attempt to settle out of court or go forward with a trial.
If you want to know more about what it’s like to work with a South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer, call the law offices of , to schedule a free consultation. You can reach our team by calling (803) 888-2200 today.