Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Near You
The attorneys at Stewart Law Office are committed to helping workers who have been injured on the job in South Carolina and North Carolina. We know that although workers’ compensation laws exist to ensure that injured workers are financially protected, the process of getting benefits can be complicated. Having a legal team with the experience to help you file the necessary paperwork, prove your injury, and maximize your benefits claim is vital to your health and your future.
The unfortunate fact is that injuries can happen to anyone at any time. The day-to-day responsibilities of an employee may subject them to potential hazards of all kinds including traffic accidents, muscular strain, machinery accidents, slip-and-fall injuries, and many others. Even workers in “safe” office jobs can suffer serious workplace injuries.
Ultimately, any activity that is undertaken by an employee in the interest of their employer and results in an injury likely should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault.
To learn more about your potential rights to workers’ compensation benefits, schedule a free consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer at Stewart Law Offices by calling us or contacting us online today.
Do You Need a Workers Compensation Attorney?
To determine if you need the assistance of an attorney for an on the job injury claim, consider the following questions:
- Were you injured at work?
- Do you need medical treatment because of on the job injuries?
- Did you get hurt while driving for work?
- Are you out of work because of your injury and need weekly compensation from the insurance carrier?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “yes,” you may need the assistance of an experienced workers compensation lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can help make sure you file your workers’ compensation claim correctly so that you receive any benefits you are entitled to as quickly as possible. We can also tell you when you may have the right to compensation that goes beyond workers comp. For example, if a contractor, non-employee or a defective product hurt you at work, you could file a third party claim that may grant you more compensation than workman’s comp typically allows.
How a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Make a Difference for You
All employers (with narrow exceptions for a few industries) are required to carry insurance coverage that will compensate employees in the event of an injury sustained on the job. When a workers’ compensation claim is filed, the employer’s insurance company will investigate the claim and determine whether they believe the injury is covered by the policy.
Claims are often straightforward. That may be because the injury or accident occurred on company property, with company equipment or was witnessed by a third party that can affirm that the injury merits coverage.
When situations are murkier, however, it is essential that injured workers are represented by an attorney who understands workers’ compensation cases. The role of the attorney in a workers’ compensation case is to stand up for your rights and seek full benefits on your behalf.
An attorney with relevant experience is prepared to help you navigate the complex claims process.
What Benefits Are Available Through Workers’ Compensation?
If you were hurt in an accident on the job, your injuries and associated expenses may be covered by workers’ compensation. You could be eligible to claim financial benefits including payment for:
- Medical treatment, including reimbursement for mileage to visit the doctor or pick up prescriptions
- Partial replacement of lost wages
- Permanent disability
- Physical impairment (including loss of limbs)
In the most severe workplace accidents that result in death, workers’ compensation benefits may provide surviving family members with death benefits.
How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last?
Following your injury event, your employer’s workers’ comp policy should pay you 66.67% of your average weekly pay up to a limit, according to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
The 66.67% rate is the same for workers in North Carolina, with a maximum weekly benefit of $978 per week as of 2018, according to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
If you sustain an injury that causes lasting impairment, a doctor will determine whether you may qualify to receive permanent disability benefits. If you’re an injured worker who has been permanently disabled, you will be assigned a disability rating or whole person impairment rating by the doctor. That personal impairment or disability rating will be used to determine the compensation you’re entitled to.
If your injury prevents you from ever working again, you could be eligible to receive disability benefits for the rest of your life.
What Happens If My Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied in South Carolina?
If your claim is contested or denied by your employer’s insurance provider, you’ll want to immediately seek legal assistance. Your lawyer can draft and file a Form 50 with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. A Form 50 will include the following details: all parties involved in the injury accident, a description of the accident, the name and role of the individual to whom the accident was reported, the extent of the injury and the treatment it required.
Your employer’s insurance carrier will submit a Form 51. A form 51 details the accidental injury event from their perspective and makes a case for why the insurance claim is invalid.
Once they have heard from both parties involved in the claim, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will assign the matter to an individual Commissioner. The Commissioner assigned to your case will review each submission and schedule a hearing.
Hearings are typically scheduled to take place within five months of the involvement of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. At the hearing, each side will present their case along with supporting evidence. The physician who treated your injury will likely provide a medical testimony – essentially their professional assessment of your injury at the time you were treated. Similarly, the insurance carrier will submit any records or evidence supporting their case.
Based on the reports and hearing, the Commissioner will make a legal ruling that outlines the benefits you are entitled to receive as a result of the injury. Either party can appeal this decision.
Appeals are subject to a joint-review that will be conducted by a panel of the Workers’ Compensation Commissioners in your jurisdiction. Following the order issued after this committee review, any additional appeals will be referred to the relevant Circuit Court, and then the state Court of Appeals.
What If I Am Unable to Go Back to Work?
In the case of a severe injury that prevents you from ever returning to work, you’ll need to structure your benefits to cover you for the rest of your life, including all medical and personal expenses. Alternatively, you may also be entitled to compensation for job training services that will enable you to transition into a new career, allowing you to continue working despite your injury.
Common Causes of Workplace Injuries
Some of the most common kinds of workplace injuries include:
- Overexertion – Employees who are required to lift, carry, push, or pull heavy objects often develop musculoskeletal disorders like strains and sprains. The back, knees, and arms and legs are often affected, and overexertion injuries can be debilitating.
- Vehicle accidents – Employees who are involved in an accident while performing work duties may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Falls – Falls can result in brain injury, neck and spine injury, broken bones, and other severe injuries. While falls from an elevation (like construction ladders or scaffolding) are some of the most commonly recognized workplace falls, even a simple slip and fall on a floor mat, uneven carpet, or stairs could cause serious and lasting harm.
- Struck-by events – When workers are hit by moving objects like machinery or large equipment, they could suffer severe and possibly fatal injuries. Struck-by injuries are part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “Big Four” hazards on construction sites.
- Crush injuries – Workers in factories or on construction sites are often at the highest risk of crush injuries, especially if they work close to heavy machinery.
- Repetitive motion injuries – Employees who perform the same motions every day are at risk of developing repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome that can make it difficult or impossible to perform their duties.
- Occupational diseases – Exposure to dangerous or toxic substances or chemicals could lead to lasting health problems for employees or could prove to be fatal.
What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt on the Job in S.C.
Your priority should always be your health and wellbeing. If your injury is serious, you need to seek emergency treatment immediately. You can report the injury to your employer once you are in a stable condition and out of immediate medical jeopardy.
If your injury is minor enough that it does not require immediate medical attention, you’ll need to report the injury to your employer before seeking medical treatment. That’s because your employer has the right to refer you to a medical professional of their choice for evaluation and treatment.
Choosing a doctor on your own without receiving your employer’s permission could absolve your employer of the responsibility to cover the medical costs associated with your evaluation and treatment.
If you experience an injury that seems minor, it is crucial that you still seek treatment and file a claim. An injury may seem insignificant at the time it occurs but may become complicated over time.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you will need to report any workers’ compensation-related injury to your employer within 90 days. If you do not report your injury within 90 days, you risk missing out on the benefits that you are entitled to.
Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The compassionate workers’ compensation attorneys at Stewart Law Offices are ready to help you seek the benefits you need if you’ve been hurt in an accident at work. We are proud to stand up for our friends and neighbors in the community, and we believe that all injured workers should get the benefits they need while they recuperate from their injuries.
Our consultations are always free, and if you are unable to come to our office to speak with us, we’ll arrange to meet you in your home or hospital room, if possible.
To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced member of our workers’ compensation team, call us, fill out a contact form, or chat with us online.