Workers’ Compensation Lawyer, Chester, SC

South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance is in place to assist all South Carolina workers hurt on the job by accessing funds needed to suffice lost wages and cover medical expenses. Do not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney in Chester if you have been injured on the job and have question or concern regard your lawful rights. In almost any occupation, a workplace injury can occur without notice. Office workers have some risk of injury, but there are other businesses that pose a higher chance of injury.


Workers’ Compensation: Industries with the Highest Rate of Injury

The rate of 3.3 per 100,000 full time workers, 4,679 total workers, were killed while working in 2014 alone. There were, on average, around 90 deaths per week or 13 deaths related to work every day. To access this information, research the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) website. There are types of occupations where the risk factor of an injury occurring at work differs from others, at a much higher chance.

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The following is a list of occupations in South Carolina that sustained the highest non-fatal work-related injuries or illnesses, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014:

  • Excavation and raw material;
  • Forest management;
  • Oil and gas withdrawal;
  • Mass production;
  • Conveyance;
  • Distribution trade;
  • Architecture; and
  • Wellness programs and support services.

On the other hand, scientific based, financial, management, informational services, and real estate are some places of business that have the lowest occupational injury rates. Even with lower chance in these industries, an injury such as falling down stairs, slippery surfaces, carpal tunnel, physical assault may still take place. In 2014, more than 20 percent of all fatalities that took place in the workplace were construction workers. Employees being caught in between or in machinery, electrocutions, getting struck by objects, and even falling is a leading cause of fatalities on construction sites.

How Does the Workers’ Compensation Insurance System Work?

No fault insurance is what sets Workers’ compensation apart from other forms of insurance. That implies that if you are a worker in South Carolina and you get hurt on the job in any way, if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you can file a claim. The employee may still file a claim even if they caused their own injury. The employee who is injured does not have the responsibility of proving the fault of the injury. Workers’ compensation insurance systematically protects the employer of a direct lawsuit, concurrently lifting the responsibility of proving fault from the employee.

Who Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?

Almost every worker in South Carolina is covered by workers’ compensation insurance because their employer is likely required to carry it. There are only a few standards that does not require workers’ compensation insurance, such as having fewer than four employees. Also, the occupational field that you work in may be an exception, such as railroad workers and those who work in agriculture.

There is no exemption for most employers, however, because it is legally mandatory to carry workers’ compensation insurance for your employees. Be mindful that workers’ compensation insurance does not cover independent contractors, only employees. It is crucial when dealing with this type of insurance to understand the difference between those two types of workers. An employer may have an intention classifying an employee as an independent contractor to avoid having to provide that worker with workers’ compensation insurance and other benefits. If you have signed an agreement or have other benefits; if you are monitored in the activities that are required to perform the job; if your company determines your schedule; or you receive a salary or hourly pay, you are considered to be an employee. Speak with a lawyer If you are not receiving workers’ compensation benefits and you think it is because you have been classified as an independent contractor unjustly.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Pay for?

Compensation for lost wages and medical treatment are two key advantages that cover an employee that has had a workplace injury. Be sure to receive all medical care that corresponds with the work incident, such as:

  • Healthcare visits;
  • Pharmaceutical prescriptions;
  • Medical procedures;
  • Medical items;
  • Reconstructive devices

Along with all medical care, you may qualify to regain compensation in part of your lost wages. The rate of compensation is equal to 66.66 percent of your average weekly income that you earned before you were injured at work. This is reported by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Nonetheless, the highest average earnings by week determined on a yearly basis is the limit. You cannot receive more than that even if 66.66 percent of your average weekly income is more than the annual support.

Death benefits are also available for the family of deceased workers.

After the employee is restored and can return to work with the same pay that was earned before the injury was sustained, benefits will discontinue.

Unfortunately, there are cases that result in the worker being disabled and never returning to work. Some of those cases include the inability to return even to the lifestyle that they once had. Lifetime benefits are given to those employees that sustain life changing injury such as permanent brain damage, quadriplegia, or paraplegia. There is a 500-week maximum time frame to receive disability or death benefits for those that sustained other injuries that were fatal or resulted in complete disability.

The Difference Between Third Party Liability Claims and Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Earlier in the introduction it was explained that workers’ compensation insurance covers the employee without having to prove fault, but also prevents a direct claim filed at the employer. Even though that is the case, you are still in position to file suit against a third party if their negligence had to do with your injury on the job. Although you cannot file a direct claim of fault to the employer, you can, however, file a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party lawsuit towards their liability at the same time. There are differences between the two:

  • A third-party lawsuit is filed directly against a third person who may be at fault of the injury, and workers’ compensation claims are filed with an insurance agency;
  • It is the injured employee’s responsibility to prove that the third party involved was negligent and that resulted in injury;
  • Third party liability suit can cover other expenses as well as lost wages and the medically related cost that workers’ compensation insurance only covers;
  • Third party liability lawsuits can be filed by an independent contractor as well as an employee. It is rightful for anyone to file a case based on neglect.

What sets apart third party liability lawsuits from workers’ compensation is that the person injured must establish fault. Proving fault on a third party is the most difficult aspect of the liability claim.

The persons listed below are considered to be third party in which the employee may file a claim proving negligence:

  • The maker of a faulty product;
  • A careless bystander or driver;
  • A product merchant; or
  • A property owner who is neglectful.

To gain more information regarding details of either claim, or the benefits that come with filing with either claim, contact a lawyer. A lawyer can give specifics and help navigate you through the claims process. They can assist in helping you determine what benefits you may be entitled to regarding your claim.

Injuries vs Occupational Diseases and Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Broken bones, lacerations, and other physical injuries are covered under workers’ compensation insurance. Occupational diseases and illness are also covered if they originated or are concerning the workplace.

A “disease arising out of and in the course of employment that is due to hazards in excess of those ordinarily incident to employment and is peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged” is the true definition of an occupational disease, as stated in Title 42 – Workers’ Compensation, Chapter 11 of the South Carolina Code of Laws.

For instance, a construction operative may be qualified for benefits because of an occupational disease by consistently working around asbestos, directly resulting in mesothelioma.

As a result of their job, an employee may contract or develop these common occupational diseases:

  • Skin diseases;
  • Musculoskeletal aggravations;
  • Certain cancers;
  • Asbestos-related illnesses;
  • Carpal tunnel;
  • Respiratory diseases or complications; and
  • Blindness and Deafness.

Psychological disorders have, if determined, have a small place in claims for workers’ compensation benefits. Psychological disorders are any possible to benefits if they are on the same basis as an occupational disease listed.

Mental illnesses, mental injuries, and stress that is concerning the job that are not attached to a physical harm, as made known by South Carolina Code, are covered for benefits specifically if:

  • The cause of stress and mental disabilities are medically evident to be of a direct result of workplace conditions;
  • Normal employer-employee relations were not a direct result of stress or mental disabilities; and
  • The employer or workplace condition that caused the mental stress was excessive, uncommon, and unreasonable.

Reporting a Workplace Injury

It is imperative that you are punctual in filing a claim with workers’ compensation insurance for benefits. It is best to report an injury at your job immediately. However, you can still do so within 90 days of the date which the work injury occurred. If you do not meet this 90-day deadline, you may be unable to receive compensation at all regarding that specific injury. Whatever you may be required to pay for medical treatment, you will have to finance yourself.

Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations

It is important that you act as soon as possible. The first step is to inform your employer of your injuries and file a claim. It is advised to not delay. You do have a 90-day time frame to report, but it is best to do so promptly.

Once you report, it is your employer’s right to take the next two steps. Firstly, your employer must follow up and be aware of your medical care. The second thing your employer would do is contact the injury to their workers’ compensation insurer. The insurance company that provides coverage then contacts the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission to make note of your claim.

Even though you are only required to report to your employer, be sure to follow up on your claim yourself. It is the employer’s role to report the claim, however, it is your duty to be sure it is filed. You should report your injury to the insurer if the employer denies your incident or fails to contact the insurer. This process consists of submitting Form 50 (for medical coverage and compensation) or Form 52 (death benefits) to the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

You have 90 days to inform your employer of your work incident. However, in the case of filing a Workers’ Compensation Commission claim, you have two years from the date that your injury occurred. The surviving members of cases regarding the deceased can independently file lawfully within two years from the date as well. Appealing a claim that has been denied also has a time limit. You have 14 days from the date you received notice of the denial.

South Carolina code section 15-3-530 states that you must file a third-party liability claim within three years of the date of injury. This is the case whether you filed workers’ compensation claim or not. Right after your injury, it is within your best interest to seek legal counsel. Statute of limitations is strict and determines the amount of time you have available to file a claim.

South Carolina occupational diseases and illnesses laws differ. If your occupational illness or disease was not contracted within a year of the last time you were exposed to hazards, you will not be capable of receiving any incentive offered by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. If the ailment you are suffering is a pulmonary disease caused by exposure to dust particles, you will have two years after your last exposure to file for a claim.

How to File for Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?

It is your responsibility to be sure a workers’ compensation claim is filed. Here are the necessary, detailed steps of each process you must take toward filing a claim independently in South Carolina:

  • Report your injury. It is wise to report your workplace injury immediately. You do have 90 days from the day of your injury to report the injury to your employer.
  • Be sure that your employer reports the injury to their insurance carrier. Follow up with your employer and be certain that your claim was filed to the insurer. A First Report of Injury or Illness form is your employer’s legal obligation. If your employer chooses not to file the First Report form, it then becomes your right to file on your own will.
  • File the appropriate form with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. If your employer is unwilling to file the claim, you must do so independently. To do so, you will file either a Form 50 ( medical coverage and compensation) or a Form 52 (death benefits) with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission to fit your specific needs. Be mindful of checking the box that specifies you are not interested in having a hearing regarding your claim, if you are not interested in a hearing at that time.
  • Attend a workers’ compensation hearing. If for any reason your employer denies you, if you are dissatisfied with the physician assigned to your case, or you think any of your rights are being violated, you may request a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission hearing. In the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case. A commissioner will then determine your case. Your lawyer can share in more detail what your rights are and can represent your case to the court.
  • File an appeal. If you do not agree with the decision made at the hearing, you have the right to file an appeal. You will need to file a Form 30 – Request for Commission Review with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission within no more than 14 days’ time from the date that you receive the commissioner’s decision. If you fail to do so within the given time limit, you may be completely unable to appeal the commissioner’s decision at any time.

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Consult with an Experienced South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Contact one of our workers’ compensation lawyers at Elrod Pope in Chester SC if you have any questions or concerns about what your rights are when filing for workers’ compensation. The experience possessed by a workers’ compensation attorney can help navigate you the filing process, keep you informed of your rights in this process, and help you receive the rightful benefits and medical coverage you deserve. To discuss your case with a lawyer, call us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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