The attorneys at Stewart Law Offices represent injured people in workers’ compensation claims in Columbia and across South Carolina. We are prepared to help you navigate the often-tricky process of obtaining the benefits you deserve when an injury at work impacts your life and livelihood.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law provides that an individual who is injured on the job has the right to recover compensation for any medical bills, partial replacement of lost wages, and disability benefits. An employee is not required to prove that an employer was at fault or contributed to a victim’s injuries to receive benefits.
Businesses in South Carolina that employ four or more workers are required to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) is the state agency that handles workers’ compensation claims.
Sometimes, employers may argue for reduced benefits or deny a claim altogether. Injured workers should make sure that they have legal representation if this happens so they can fight to receive the full amount of compensation they need.
If you suffered any serious injury on the job in South Carolina, contact our workplace injury attorneys for help with your workers’ compensation claim. Stewart Law Offices assists clients throughout South Carolina with complex workplace injury claims. Call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
A lawyer can be essential to many parts of the workers’ compensation process. For example, workers’ compensation commissioners with the WCC may conduct a hearing to resolve disputes between you and your employer or their insurance carrier. You may also need to request a hearing if your employer does not report your accident, denies that your injury was caused by an accident on the job, or you believe you are not receiving the full amount of benefits.
An experienced lawyer will know what kinds of evidence need to be submitted to help you resolve your claim successfully. They will have knowledge about all of the different forms that must be completed and can help you avoid many of the oversights and errors that create lengthy delays.
If you are offered a lump sum settlement to resolve your workers’ compensation case, a lawyer can work to negotiate a full and fair settlement on your behalf. The attorney can fight for a settlement that truly accounts for all of your past, present, and future needs.
Tips for Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits Successfully
Every workplace accident involves its own unique factors, but everyone should take certain steps following any kind of on-the-job injury. When you are involved in an accident at your place of employment, you should:
- Report the Accident — You need to file a report with your employer as soon as possible after an accident, and a report must be filed within 90 days for you to receive benefits. You should make your report in writing and keep a copy of the report for your records.
- Get Medical Care — You should always seek medical treatment after any accident, even if you initially do not think that you were hurt. This is essential to show that your injuries were caused directly by your workplace accident. If you receive care from your employer’s chosen medical care provider, the costs of your treatment should be covered by the employer. You have the right to receive care from your own personal physician, but this may not be automatically covered.
- Collect Evidence — Take pictures of the scene of your accident, especially any extenuating contributing circumstances that may be quickly fixed. If you are unable to do this, ask a coworker to do so for you. Make sure you have the contact information of any co-workers who saw your accident.
- File the Proper Forms — You will have to file a First Report of Injury (WCC Form 12-A), and you may also need to file a Form 50 or Form 52. Your employer is also responsible for completing certain forms and submitting them to the insurer and the WCC, but you may need assistance making sure that all of the necessary forms have been filed correctly.
- Contact an Attorney — Do not wait to get help from Stewart Law Offices. Our lawyers will be able to offer help immediately to recovere all of the benefits that you could be eligible to receive.
Time limits are very important in most workplace accident claims. In addition to the 90-day requirement for reporting an accident to your employer, you are also subject to a two-year statute of limitations on your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation in Columbia
The first step in the workers’ compensation process is a victim notifying their employer of an accident, which must be done within 90 days. The victim then files a Form 50 or Form 52 with the WCC. A Form 50 is filed in an injury case, while a Form 52 is used in the event of the death of a family member. After you file a claim, you could be entitled to numerous benefits, including medical expenses, partial replacement of lost wages, and disability benefits.
Disability benefits are usually either permanent partial disability (PPD) awards that equal two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage or permanent total disability (PTD) awards. Employers may contest benefits, which can lead to injured workers having to attend WCC hearings.
There is a seven-day waiting period before workers’ compensation benefits can be paid, but you will be compensated for those seven days if you are out of work for more than 14 days. Payments come from your employer’s insurance company and should be made directly to you until the doctor releases you to return to work.
When a doctor releases you to return to work with or without restrictions, workers’ compensation wage-replacement benefits will be stopped and you must request a hearing if you disagree. You must accept light work if it is ordered, but you have the right to a hearing if you believe that you are not able to do the work assigned to you.
How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You generally have two years from the date of an accident to file a workers’ compensation claim. Injuries can become more complicated when they take several months or years to develop, such as repetitive trauma injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. In such cases, a person has two years from the date that they knew or should have known they suffered such an injury. Repetitive trauma injuries are frequently some of the most difficult kinds of injuries to recover workers’ compensation for because employers aggressively challenge most benefits. These injuries cause very real limitations for victims and workers’ compensation benefits may be available. A lawyer can fight to make sure you are justly compensated in this situation.
Appealing the Decision of the Commissioner
A single adverse decision is rarely the end of a workers’ compensation case. A person usually has many appeal options.
If you are denied benefits, your initial appeal will be heard by a single WCC commissioner. A disagreement with that commissioner’s decision will lead to an appeal that is heard by the Full Commission.
If a workers’ compensation benefits claim is denied, the person can file a lawsuit within 30 days of receiving notice of the decision. The next step would be an appeal to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. Any further appeal would be filed with the South Carolina Supreme Court, which only accepts certain cases.
How Our Law Firm Can Help After a Workplace Accident
Stewart Law Offices is prepared to conduct an exhaustive and thorough investigation of your accident. We will not only collect important evidence, but we will review the cause of your accident to determine if any additional non-employer third parties could be liable for your injuries.
In some cases, victims may be able to pursue third-party actions in addition to their underlying workers’ compensation claims. These could include lawsuits against the manufacturers of defective machine parts or the drivers of other motor vehicles, for example.
Many workplace accidents involve several complicated elements, and it is easy for a person to be overwhelmed by the challenges of collecting all of the necessary evidence to support their workers’ compensation claims. You do not have to handle all of these demands on your own. Contact one of our workers’ compensation lawyers today to make sure you do not miss any deadlines or form entries that can cause potential delays or worse a denied claim.
Did you sustain a severe injury on the job in Columbia? You may need legal assistance to make sure that you pursue all the benefits that you deserve under the law.
Stewart Law Offices has been helping employees who have been hurt on the job for more than two decades. You can have our attorneys review your case when you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.