Suffering a workplace injury or an illness related to the workplace can be a very difficult experience. Apart from affecting your ability to work, it will also probably become a drain on your finances in the form of medical bills, not to mention the pain and suffering it will cause you and your loved ones. Luckily, you can use the South Carolina worker’s compensation system to compensate for the losses and damages you have suffered.
The South Carolina Worker’s Compensation system
South Carolina employers with four or more employees are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance. The compensation system is overlooked by the South Carolina Industrial Commission; however, most claims are paid by insurance companies. Your best course of action in order to gain the maximum compensation for losses you incurred as a result of a workplace accident or occupational illness is to follow South Carolina workers’ compensation rules for reporting the injury and getting medical treatment.
Seek emergency healthcare
You should be most concerned about seeking medical care immediately after a workplace injury. If it is an emergency, you should do this at the nearest possible emergency room. If the situation does not qualify as an emergency, you should notify your employer of the injury you have suffered and seek treatment from a doctor selected by your employer or your employer’s insurance company. South Carolina workers compensation covers all reasonable medical bills associated with authorized treatment for your workplace injury. You cannot be reimbursed for medical treatment from unauthorized healthcare providers.
How to file for worker’s compensation in South Carolina?
The first step in claiming compensation for your worker’s compensation benefits is to notify your employer when you have suffered from a workplace related injury or illness. This should be done as soon as possible after the incident which led to your condition. According to the statute, the employer has to be notified within 90 days of the incident. However, there are exceptions to the 90 days rule in cases for when the employer already had knowledge of the incident, if you were prevented from notifying or were unable to notify the employer due to being physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of your medical condition or if you were prevented from notifying the employer due to fraud and deceit by a third party. In cases of repetitive trauma, such as carpal tunnel or tendonitis, the employer must be given notice within 90 days of your discovery of the medical condition. After this, it is your employer’s responsibility to report your injury to an insurance company.
The second step is to file the claim for your benefits. If your employer has been non-cooperative or denies that your medical condition is a consequence of your job, you can personally file a claim with the Workers Compensation Commission. This means filing a Form 50, or a Form 52 if you are filing a claim for the family of a deceased worker whose death was a result of a workplace accident or occupational illness.
Because deadlines are strictly enforced and the filing process can be complex, it is advisable to consult a South Carolina worker’s compensation attorney during this process.
Receiving your compensation
Once your claim is received, it will be reviewed by the commission and your benefits will be awarded to you according to their decision. Benefits are awarded based on calculations made by the commission of the cost of your medical treatment, as well as the losses you incurred as a result of the time you couldn’t work and collect pay checks because of the duration of time you could not work as a result of your injury or work place related medical problem. This is known as temporary disability coverage. Generally, you will be awarded two-thirds of your average wage along with the medical expenses you incurred, but not more than the amount set by the Industrial Commission. If you have suffered a permanent disability as a result of your injury or workplace related illness, you are entitled to receive wage-replacement benefits for a period of up to 500 weeks. The amount of benefits you receive will be based on the severity of your permanent disability. For example, if you have lost the use of a finger, you will receive less compensation than you would if you lost the use of a leg. You will receive the benefits after a waiting period of seven days.
Requesting a Workers Compensation Hearing
It is possible that you will not be satisfied by the decision made by the Worker’s Compensation Commission. The commission may have misunderstood the nature of injuries, failed to understand what kind of work you were exactly doing at the time of being injured or acquiring your work place associated illness and awarded you less compensation than what you were actually entitled to. In such cases, you have a right to a hearing where you make your case to the Worker’s Compensation Commission. The hearing must be requested within 14 days of the commission’s initial decision. You will also have to file a Form 30 and pay a $125 filing fee. The appeal will be made before a panel of three commissioners.
An experienced attorney can help you at this hearing by:
- Helping you prepare for the hearing
- Guiding you through the deposition process
- Compiling and producing evidence prior to the hearing
- Cross-examining witnesses at the hearing
- Presenting opening and closing statements at the hearing
- Appealing the decision if the commission decides against you
Requesting a hearing will also give you the option to request mediation. Mediation is a less formal method of trying to resolve a dispute via a third party. The third party listens to both sides and tries to help you and your employer come to a settlement agreement.
If your appeal is unsuccessful, you have 30 days to file a case in a South Carolina Circuit Court or the Carolina Supreme Court. The Court will make a final non-appealable decision regarding your compensation.
Carlos E Sandoval P.A - Immigration Lawyer In Hollywood, FL serving clients from Dade, Broward & Palm Beach Counties on Bilingual Immigration Attorney in South Florida.