Work-related accidents and injuries are more common than you may realize. Every year, thousands of people all across the country are hurt while working. If you have been injured while performing your work duties, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits with the help of an experienced lawyer like those at the Elrod Pope Law Firm of Chester, South Carolina.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides medical benefits and covers a portion of lost wages for workers who are injured while performing their work duties. While most U.S. employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation coverage, the laws vary from state to state.
Every South Carolina employer and employee is assumed to have workers’ compensation coverage. However, there are some exceptions to the provision, such as: railway express and railroad companies and their workers, federal employees located in the state, agricultural employees, some real estate salespersons, some casual employees, businesses that have fewer than four employees, and corporate officers by election.
Those employers who are required to have the coverage must keep adequate insurance coverage for the payment of compensation or must furnish the Workers’ Compensation Commission proof showing they can pay the compensation that is owed to an injured employee. The approval of rates and classifications for all workers’ compensation insurers falls under the responsibilities of the South Carolina Department of Insurance.
An employee in Chester, SC, can expect to be compensated for personal injury or loss of life that results from his or her employment. Workers’ compensation coverage pays for necessary medical care, a portion of lost wages during the time he or she cannot work because of the injury, and compensation for any disfigurement or permanent disabilities that result from the accident. If an employee’s work-related injury renders him or her unable to work for more than seven days, he or she is to be compensated at the rate of 66 2/3% of their average weekly wages. However, that rate is limited to 100% of the state’s average weekly wage as established each year by the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. If the disability period total exceeds 14 days, the employee is eligible to receive compensation as of the day of the accident.
Total disability or death has a maximum award that is limited to 500 weeks of pay. The compensation rate is determined by the injured worker’s average wages each week, but it cannot exceed 100% of the state’s average weekly wage. If the worker loses both arms, both hands, both feet, both legs, vision in both eyes, or has a combination of two of those losses, it warrants total and permanent disability for the worker. The commissioner has the right to make other disability determinations that are dependent on the impairment or loss for the injured individual.
What Should I Do If I Am Hurt While I Am Working in Chester, SC?
If you are hurt while working in Chester, you must first immediately report the accident to your employer. If you don’t notify a supervisor right away, you could lose the payment of compensation and medical expenses that you would be entitled to receive. The injury absolutely must be reported within 90 days of the accident date.
Any claims for compensation must be filed within two years of the date of the accident or the date of death. If an employer receives notice of an injury or is aware of an accident, the employer or a representative has ten days to report the accident to the commission. In turn, the commission will monitor the payment of the related costs, such as compensation and medical costs provided by the employer or its insurance company.
When you suffer a work-related injury, you should seek medical care right away. If injuries are serious or life-threatening, call 911 and be transported by ambulance. If there are any witnesses to your accident, remember who they were so they can be contacted for a statement.
When you notify your employer of your injury, be honest and straightforward. Tell your employer exactly what happened and how it happened. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault program, which means even if you are partly to blame for your injury, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and cover a portion of your wages while you are recovering.
What if My Chester, SC Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied?
If you have a problem receiving the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to receive after a work injury in Chester, you can request a hearing. You can apply for a hearing before a commissioner for several reasons.
Common causes for hearings include: the employer failing to report the accident to the commission, the employer denied that the injury was sustained while the employee was performing work duties, or if the employee is not receiving all the benefits that he or she is entitled to receive after the work accident. If you, as the injured employee, and your employer fail to reach an agreement regarding your compensation within 14 days after the employer has been notified of the accident, or if there is a disagreement regarding the continuance of pay, you can also request a hearing.
If you are not happy with the commissioner’s decision, you can appeal the decision to the Commission for further review. At that time, a panel consisting of three or six commissioners, not including the original commissioner, will consider your appeal. If you are not pleased with the decision rendered by the appellate panel, you can appeal to the Court of Common Pleas and even on to the State Appellate Courts.
Consult with a South Carolina Work Injury Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured while working, you need an experienced Chester workers’ compensation attorney representing you. Elrod Pope has helped injured workers throughout South Carolina for years and knows how to help when you are dealing with the complexity of the workers’ compensation process. Your attorney will ensure your rights are protected and help you get on track to receiving all the benefits you deserve. Call Elrod Pope Law Firm today to schedule a free initial case evaluation to discuss your work injury.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.