You can prove that it is job-related. Workers’ compensation provides no-fault coverage of accidental injuries or occupational illnesses that you sustain or suffer in the course of doing your job. If your company has four or more employees, your employer must carry workers’ comp and pay monthly premiums to an insurance company to cover eligible workers’ medical bills and lost wages.
If you’re hurt in an accident or become sick over time due to repetitive movements or workplace conditions, you should make a workers’ comp claim right away:
- Report your injury/illness to your boss or a claims administrator.
- File Form 50 with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC).
- See the doctor recommended by your employer’s insurance company and follow all medical advice and treatment guidelines. Keep records of your visits and treatments.
- Consult an attorney if your claim is disputed or denied.
Common Types of Disputed or Denied Claims
Simple, straightforward claims for minor accidental injuries that heal quickly and result in little time off work are most likely to be paid without dispute, especially if there are witnesses to the accident and no doubt that you sustained your injury at work. Such claims might not require the help of a lawyer. There are, however, other claims that could be disputed by your employer:
Some workplace conditions can contribute to hearing loss or vision trouble over time. Others might lead to lung damage from inhalation of toxic fumes or skin issues from exposure to chemicals. When sickness develops gradually, you can’t file a claim until you have symptoms of the disease and a doctor’s diagnosis. Your employer might claim that you aren’t eligible for benefits because you developed your condition due to other factors in your life. In order to receive benefits, you’ll have to organize and present your medical evidence to show the connection between workplace conditions and your illness.
Sudden Injury From Ongoing Trauma
You might suffer a stroke or heart attack on or off the job after months or years of cumulative work trauma like heat exposure, stress, or chronic overexertion. Even if you had a pre-existing condition, it might have been aggravated by your daily work and developed into a serious or life-threatening problem on the job. Solid medical evidence and a strong legal argument will be necessary to get you the benefits you need.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
If your job requires you to bend over, squat, kneel, twist your wrists, or overuse other joints like knees, elbows, or shoulders, you could develop injuries slowly over time until, one day, you find yourself incapacitated, in pain, and unable to perform your normal duties. Again, your employer/insurance company could dispute your claim unless you can show convincing evidence that your condition is work-related.
If you develop anxiety, PTSD, depression, or some other psychological/emotional disorder due to your work duties, the claim might be disputed by your boss and harder to prove than a physical claim would be.
In any of the above cases, a workers’ comp attorney can organize/present your medical evidence and call in expert witnesses if necessary to prove the connection between your work and your injury/illness.
Gray Areas Related To Workers' Compensation Claims In South Carolina
There are other situations in which your employer or the insurance company might try to dispute the connection between your job duties and your injury/illness. The services of an attorney are highly recommended if you’re hurt or become ill under any of the following circumstances:
- During company training (required or voluntary)
- At a company recreational event
- Before clocking in/after clocking out
- While commuting
- While driving a company vehicle
- While running company errands in your own vehicle
- While engaged in horseplay or fighting in the workplace
- On a lunch or coffee break onsite
- While eating or picking up lunch for yourself, co-workers, and/or your boss off-site
If your claim is denied for any reason, that denial is not necessarily the final word on your case. A workers’ comp lawyer can guide you through the complex workers’ comp appeals process, which includes:
- Informal conference
- SCWCC hearing
- Commission review
- SC Court of Appeals
- SC Supreme Court
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at your job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your free consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.