Were you hurt in an accident at work in Rock Hill? If so, the workers’ compensation attorneys of Stewart Law Offices, LLC can explain your rights and help you seek benefits. We know that your recovery and supporting your family are what is most important to you, so we’re here to help you through the often-challenging claims process.
South Carolina workers’ compensation laws are found in Title 42 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. The state law gives injured workers the right to recover compensation for medical bills, partial replacement of lost wages, and disability benefits.
The state agency that handles workers’ compensation claims is the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. An employer in South Carolina is required to obtain workers’ compensation insurance if it employs four or more people, with a few narrow exceptions.
Many employees rightfully believe that they are entitled to benefits when they suffer a workplace injury, but challenges often arise when workers are required to prove the severity of their injuries or possibly face questions about whether an injury was suffered in the workplace. You should not lose hope when complications arise during the workers’ compensation claims process. Legal help is available.
Did you suffer a severe injury on the job in Rock Hill? The experienced personal injury lawyers at Stewart Law Offices, LLC are committed to helping injured workers seek benefits in Rock Hill. Call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Many people who attempt to handle their own claims deal with significant delays caused by the failure to include necessary medical records or complete forms properly. You could benefit from working with our attorneys as soon as possible after an on-the-job injury to help avoid those issues.
If you employer does not report your accident or denies that your injury was caused by an accident on the job, or if you believe you are not receiving proper benefits, you may need to request a hearing. You will also want a lawyer to represent you at any hearing held to resolve disputes between you and your employer or their representative.
Certain types of injuries can be more challenging to have addressed to allow for receipt of proper benefits. Our attorneys know the best kinds of evidence to use to support claims for those injuries.
Another reason to involve a lawyer concerns the possibility that a third party could be liable for your injuries. A non-employer third-party claim could provide for compensation in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.
Some employees may be offered lump sum settlements to resolve their cases when insurance companies do not want to pay benefits over a period of several years. You should have an attorney help negotiate for a fair and full settlement to your case.
Tips for Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits Successfully
Different kinds of workplace accidents involve different procedures. Some employers have specifically planned for how employees should respond to accidents and document the incidents.
In general, any person who has been involved in an accident in the workplace should be sure to take certain steps immediately after the accident:
- Get Emergency Medical Treatment — Always receive medical care, regardless of whether you believe you were hurt at first. The costs should be covered by the employer when you receive care from the employer’s chosen medical care provider. You have the right to see your own personal physician, but you may have to do so at your own expense.
- Report the Accident — An employee involved in a workplace accident generally must file a report with their employer as soon as possible (within 90 days of the accident) if they are to receive benefits. Put the report in writing so a copy can be kept for your records.
- Collect Evidence — Use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident scene. Take photographs of everything relating to the accident and try to get multiple views. If any co-workers witnessed your accident, be sure that you have their names and phone numbers.
- File the Proper Forms — In addition to a First Report of Injury (WCC Form 12-A), you might also be required to file a Form 50 or Form 52. The employer then has forms they are responsible for submitting to the insurer and the WCC.
- Contact a Lawyer — Seek legal representation from Stewart Law Offices as soon as possible after a workplace accident. Contacting our attorneys will allow for a proper independent investigation of the accident and analysis of all potentially responsible third parties.
In South Carolina, there is a two-year statute of limitations on claims for workers’ compensation benefits. Except in very rare circumstances, courts will refuse to hear any claims filed after this time period has expired.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation in Rock Hill
If you are injured on the job in Rock Hill, you’ll need to file for workers’ compensation by doing the following:
- File a Report with Your Employer — Preferably, the report should be in writing.
- File with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission – Form 50 is used in an injury case; Form 52 applies to the death of a family member.
Workers’ compensation benefits can include payment of all related medical expenses, partial replacement of lost wages, and disability benefits. The amount of benefits provided will vary depending on various factors, such as the severity of an injury and the amount of missed work.
Examples of injuries employees may suffer on the job include:
- Nerve damage
- Back injuries
- Knee, ankle, shoulder and other joint injuries
- Neck injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Muscle strains
Disability benefits are set at two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly wage up to a maximum limit. They are either permanent partial disability (PPD) or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. Disability benefits are among the most commonly disputed types of awards because many employers will argue that a worker’s injuries are not as disabling as claimed.
A seven-day waiting period applies to workers’ compensation benefits, but claimants are compensated for the seven days if they are out of work for more than 14 days. The employer’s insurance representative should make payments directly to you until the doctor releases you to return to work.
Workers’ compensation ends when a doctor releases you to return to work with or without restrictions. You are required to 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 for Workers’ Compensation?
South Carolina state law gives an injured worker two years to file a workers’ compensation claim. Not all injuries are immediately apparent. For example, repetitive trauma injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome can take several months or years to develop.
Repetitive trauma injuries create very real limitations but are often contested claims. It is important to understand that a person has two years from the date that they knew or should have known they suffered a repetitive trauma injury to file a legal claim. Some insurers may attempt to have to these claims dismissed because of time limits.
Appealing a Decision of the Commissioner
If your initial workers’ compensation claim was denied, you should know that you still have options. Claimants frequently appeal any unfavorable decision to a higher authority.
When you are denied benefits, the initial appeal will be heard by a single workers’ compensation commissioner. A subsequent appeal is handled by the full commission.
Any further action would involve filing 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. The court of last resort for appeal is the South Carolina Supreme Court, which hears only select cases.
How Our Law Firm Can Help after a Workplace Accident in Rock Hill
Stewart Law Offices, LLC is prepared to conduct a thorough investigation of your accident to determine exactly how it happened, how badly you were hurt, and whether a non-employer third party could be held liable. Third-party negligence becomes important because those parties are not subject to the same protection from civil actions that is afforded to employers with workers’ compensation insurance.
A negligent third party may include a person who is not a co-worker but acted negligently, such as the driver of a motor vehicle. In other cases, accidents are caused by defective machinery, and a maintenance company or manufacturer could be responsible.
Some people are very hesitant to file workers’ compensation claims for fears of possible termination for collecting these benefits, but state law provides protections against retaliatory discharge that we can discuss with you.
If you sustained a serious workplace injury or your loved one was killed on the job in South Carolina, make sure that you act quickly to protect your legal rights. Our lawyers can help you successfully navigate the complicated workers’ compensation process.
Stewart Law Offices has been helping people injured on the job throughout South Carolina for over 20 years. Call us or contact us online to have our attorneys review your case during a free consultation.