Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation
If you are injured at work, understanding your rights and your options for recovery is of the utmost importance. When you need legal aid, our lawyers at the Stewart Law Offices can provide you with the representation and attention you deserve. Let our legal team help you file your workers’ compensation claim and seek the full benefit amount to which you’re entitled.
We know that if you have been injured at work, you may have questions about workers’ compensation coverage, eligibility, the claims process, payments, benefits, and medical issues. Consider some of the frequently asked questions we hear below, and call us directly for information specific to your case.
FAQs About Coverage
Who is responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits?
In South Carolina, the employer is responsible for providing workers’ compensation coverage for employees. In South Carolina, all employers with four or more employees must provide coverage, and part-time workers are counted as employees. This includes non-profit organizations.
What injuries and illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance covers injuries that occur on the job or while the worker is performing a work-related task. Illnesses that result from work-related activities are referred to as occupational diseases. These are also covered under workers’ compensation insurance.
Are repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel covered?
Yes, repetitive motion injuries that are a result of work-related activities are covered under workers’ compensation.
FAQs About Eligibility
Who is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
Both full- and part-time employees count as employees for workers’ compensation purposes. Only employees are covered under workers’ compensation, not independent contractors. General contractors are also required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
What if I was injured while volunteering?
Unfortunately, volunteers are not typically covered under workers’ compensation insurance, although a volunteer who was injured as a result of an employer’s negligence may have the right to file a civil lawsuit against the company.
Am I eligible even if my work injury was my own fault?
Employees who contribute to their injuries through their own negligence may still be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits, as workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. You may, however, be barred from recovery if you were engaging in illegal activity at the time of the injury, your injury was self-inflicted, or if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
My job requires travel and I was injured in a car accident while driving home from work or at a work-related event. Am I eligible?
Whether or not you will be covered for a motor vehicle accident is dependent upon your situation. If you were “on the clock” at the time of your accident and driving was part of your job duties, then yes, you should be covered. However, the “going and coming rule” holds that workers’ compensation benefits generally do not apply to workers who are injured while commuting to or from work or work functions.
Can I file for workers’ compensation if I was injured on my lunch break?
In order to recover workers’ compensation benefits, you must prove that your injury was work-related. If you were off the clock and off of the premises at the time of your injury, it will likely not be covered. It’s important to consult with an attorney for more information that’s specific to your case.
Can I get workers’ comp if a previous injury was aggravated on my current job?
You may be able to recover compensation if an old injury was aggravated or injured to a more severe degree as a result of a workplace accident. However, you cannot recover workers’ compensation for an injury that is not related to your current workplace accident.
What if I was injured at home while doing work for my employer?
Again, the answer to this depends on whether or not you were acting within the scope of your employment. Whether you are covered likely depends on the type of work you were performing at the time of the accident that led to your injury.
FAQs About Claims
How long do I have to file a workers’ comp claim in South Carolina?
It’s important that you act quickly to initiate the claims process. In South Carolina, you have 90 days to provide your employer with notice of the injury, and two years to file your actual claim for benefits.
Can my claim be denied if I don’t report the injury in time?
Yes, if you do not report your injury to your employer within the required time frame (90 days from the date of your injury in South Carolina), you can be denied compensation. It is best to report your injury immediately and to follow up with your employer after providing notice of injury to ensure that the claims process is under way.
What if I work in a different state from where I live? Where do I apply for workers’ compensation payments?
You should apply for workers’ compensation benefits in the state in which you are employed. Typically, simply providing notice to your employer will kick-start the process. If your claim is denied or your employer fails to report your accident, reach out to a lawyer who can provide more guidance.
Can my employer fire me for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
No, it is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for exercising a protected right, including the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer retaliates against you in any way, you should immediately contact an attorney.
What forms should I sign? What forms should I not sign?
In South Carolina, the most common form is Form 50-Employee’s Notice of Claim and/or Request for Hearing. Of course, there may be other important forms that are necessary depending upon your situation, too.
You should not sign a settlement/release of claims without consulting an attorney. Once you accept a settlement, you forfeit your right to pursue further benefits.
What if my employer refuses to file an accident or incident report?
If your employer refuses to file an accident or incident report and initiate the claim process, you maintain the right to do this on your own and request benefits without your employer’s help.
What should I do if my workers’ compensation claim has been denied?
If your claim for workers’ compensation benefits is denied, you maintain the right to appeal the decision. It is important that you act quickly, as an appeal is limited by a certain amount of time. If you are appealing a denied claim, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal counsel immediately.
Is the workers’ compensation insurance company allowed to follow me, take photos, and talk to my neighbors?
Unfortunately, as part of the investigative process, a workers’ compensation insurance company may assign an adjuster to your claim ─ or even hire a private detective ─ whose job it is to learn more about your injuries. They may do this by following you, tracking your activities, taking photos, referencing your social media profiles, and even talking to people who know you.
FAQs About Payments
What types of workers’ compensation payments can I receive for a work injury?
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation covers the full value of necessary and reasonable medical expenses as well as wage replacement benefits to cover a portion of lost wages for those who miss a certain amount of work. Workers may also be entitled to disability benefits based on the duration of their injury and whether or not the injury precludes them from performing the same type of work they did prior to the accident (or any work at all). In South Carolina, vocational benefits, death benefits, and funeral expenses are also available.
When will I receive my first workers’ compensation check?
In South Carolina, there is a seven-day waiting period before benefits can be paid. (However, if you are out of work for more than 14 days, you can recover compensation for the first seven days, too.) Note that you will not receive your compensation benefits until after your claim is approved, which could take multiple weeks in some circumstances.
FAQs About Losing Benefits
I feel like I’m being forced back to work, but I’m not ready to return. Will I lose my workers’ compensation coverage if I refuse to return to work?
In many cases, a worker may be released back to work before they are ready. If you are not ready to go back to work but are released to return to work, you can request a hearing. Note that in many cases, returning to work means that benefits will be terminated. If you disagree with this decision, it is important that you request a hearing immediately.
If I’m receiving workers’ compensation payments and my employer offers me a light-duty job, do I have to take it?
If you are released to light-duty work, you must accept it. If you do not accept it, all compensation may cease. Again, you have the right to request a hearing if you do not believe that you are able to perform the work that you have been assigned.
FAQs About Medical Issues
Do I have to see a company doctor for medical treatment of a work-related Injury?
If you are injured at work in South Carolina, you must go to an approved doctor who is selected by your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider. In the event that you go to your own doctor, you will have to pay for the fees out of pocket ─ workers’ compensation coverage will not apply. If you want to see your own doctor, you may request a second opinion. You should consult with an attorney about this option.
What if the company doctor releases me to go back to work but my own doctor disagrees?
Again, if you are released back to work before you believe you are ready, you can request a hearing to appeal the decision. You can present medical evidence supporting your side at the hearing. It is helpful to have an attorney for proper representation at this stage.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Now
Filing a workers’ compensation claim on your own can be very challenging, especially if your claim has any complexities, such as the existence of a pre-existing condition, questions over whether or not the injury is covered under workers’ compensation, denied benefits, etc. When you work with our dedicated lawyers, we can help you better understand the workers’ compensation process and what to expect every step of the way.
Our lawyers have decades of combined legal experience and are ready to work for you to pursue full benefits in your workers’ compensation claim. Our compassionate legal team will remain available and accessible to you throughout the claims process. We will always answer your questions honestly and accurately, and we will always treat you with respect.
There is nothing simple about being injured at work. Although no one wants to get involved in a legal issue, fighting for fair compensation may be necessary, and without it, financial hardship is a real possibility. Please call us with your workers’ compensation questions. The workers’ compensation lawyers at the Stewart Law Offices, are here to help. Reach us online or by phone today for your free consultation.