Each year, approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occur in the private sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. When workers get hurt or sick on the job, workers’ compensation benefits may help replace part of their income while they recover. However, your ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits will directly depend on your understanding of the workers’ compensation process and following the right steps. A workers’ compensation attorney can assist you throughout the process.
South Carolina Attorney Reveals Little-Known Facts About Workers’ Comp
Workers’ compensation, also known as workmen’s comp, is a state-mandated insurance system that guarantees money to employees who are hurt from a job-related injury or illness.
An employee with a work-related injury is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits irrespective of whether the employee, the employer, a coworker, a customer, or some other third party was at fault.
What Are The Workers’ Comp Laws In North Carolina And South Carolina?
Each state has its own laws and programs for workers’ compensation. In North Carolina, all businesses which employ three or more must obtain workers’ compensation insurance. In South Carolina, similarly, every company employing more than four workers is assumed to be covered by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Exceptions to these provisions in both states include federal employees, railroad workers, casual employees like domestic servants, certain real estate salespersons, and agricultural employees.
In exchange for the guaranteed benefits provided by workers’ compensation, employees generally forego the right to sue their employer for damages related to their injuries.
This is the general rule, but there are several exceptions. In certain situations, you may indeed be entitled to file a different or additional claim for damages caused by your injuries. For instance:
- Third-Party Claim. You are injured on the job by someone who is not employed by your company, known as a “third party.”
- Defective products. If your injury was caused by a defective product, you might have grounds for a products liability action against the product’s manufacturer.
- Toxic substances. The manufacturer of a toxic or otherwise harmful substance is often held liable in a toxic tort lawsuit.
Additionally, if you discover that your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you will very likely be able to sue them in civil court, or collect money from a state fund.
Although workers’ compensation lawyer provides financial benefits to injured workers, these disability payments, whether temporary or permanent, are often very low and in many cases fail to compensate an employee for things like pain and suffering.
It is very important for people injured on the job to know their rights. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can, in many cases, successfully bring a case outside the narrow limits of workers’ compensation.
How an Attorney Can Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can handle your claim while you focus on getting better. You can expect your workers’ compensation lawyer to:
- Advise you on what to do – A workers’ compensation lawyer can give you advice about how and when to give notice to your employer about your work-related injury. For example, in North Carolina, you must provide written notice to your employer within 30 days of your injury, according to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. In South Carolina, you must use Form 50 to report your on-the-job injury to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. You must submit this form to your employer within 90 days.
- Explain your rights – Your workers’ compensation lawyer can also explain your rights under the workers’ compensation system. We can discuss the benefits to which you might be entitled, such as payment for your medical treatment, wage replacement benefits of two-thirds of your average weekly earnings, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. We can also explain your legal options if your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance.
- Handle your appeal – If your employer denies your claim, we can request a hearing and handle your appeal to fight for the benefits you deserve.
- Explore all options for recovery – We can thoroughly investigate your claim and determine if there are other parties who might be responsible for your injuries, such as a manufacturer of a defective product. Making a claim against a negligent third party may help maximize your benefits so that you can be compensated for the full extent of your damages, including your pain and suffering.
What to Do After a Work Injury
If you are injured within the course and scope of your employment, follow these steps to protect your claim:
Report the Injury
Notify your employer immediately about your work-related injury. If you are unable to give notice in writing right away, tell your supervisor verbally about your injury. Then, follow up with written notification.
Seek Medical Treatment
Visit a doctor or medical facility pre-approved by your employer for workers’ compensation claims. Notify the medical staff that you were injured at work.
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can investigate your claim and give you solid legal advice about your next steps. At Stewart Law Offices, we provide high-quality service without sacrificing personal relationships. We represent injured workers and their families throughout South and North Carolina. You can learn more about how we can help by contacting us and requesting a free case review.