Yes, a Charleston workers’ compensation attorney can help you prove that your injuries are work-related and you’re eligible for benefits. If you’ve been accidentally hurt or developed an occupational illness in the course of performing your job duties, South Carolina workers’ compensation provides no-fault coverage of your:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Vocational re-training
- Death benefit (for families who’ve lost a loved one in a work accident)
You should report your injury or illness to your employer, file a workers’ comp claim, and get medical attention as soon as possible after your injury or diagnosis of your illness. You don’t have to prove any fault on the part of your employer, and you can’t be fired for filing a claim.
Determining If Your Injury or Illness Is Work-Related
An injury or illness is work-related if it was caused or aggravated in the scope of your work by an event in or exposure to the work environment:
- Your actual workplace or work site
- Other places where you go to carry out your work
- The materials/equipment you use while working
There are some exceptions, however; your injury or illness might not be work-related if:
- You’re in the workplace outside working hours and off the clock when your injury occurs.
- You have symptoms of injury or illness at work, but the cause was not work-related.
- You’re hurt or made sick by participating voluntarily in a medical/wellness, fitness, or recreational event on company property:
- Sports event
- Flu shot
- Exercise class
- Donation of blood
- Your injury is intentionally self-inflicted or results from taking medication for a non-work-related condition.
- Your injury results from a car accident that occurs when you’re coming to or going home from work.
- You have a common cold or influenza.
- You’re mentally ill (unless you have a sworn statement from a mental health professional stating your condition is related to your job).
The primary goal of your employer’s insurance company, which actually pays workers’ comp claims, is to remain profitable. The insurer, therefore, is always looking for reasons to dispute or deny claims, especially expensive ones for serious injuries or illnesses with high medical bills and long recovery times. Accidental injuries are less likely to be disputed because they:
- Occur in a very short period of time
- Are likely to be physically obvious
- Can be reported as soon as they happen
- Are often witnessed by co-workers
Some Workers' Compensation Claims Can Develop Over Time
Conditions that develop over time, however, are easier for the insurer to dispute:
If you work in an environment with a high noise level that causes you to sustain hearing loss over time, for example, your employer might dispute your claim because hearing loss can occur for reasons unrelated to your work. The burden is on you to prove your condition was caused or aggravated by exposure to workplace conditions.
Repetitive stress injury.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and back/joint conditions can develop over time from repeating the same physical tasks daily for years. Because these conditions don’t occur instantly as an accidental injury does, you have to prove the connection between your work and your repetitive stress condition.
A stroke or heart attack that occurs outside work might still be work-related if you can document factors that contributed to it, such as exposure to heat or extreme physical exertion. Even if you had a pre-existing condition that was made worse by these factors, you may still file a claim if you can prove the aggravation of the condition was work-related.
An experienced attorney can help you meet your burden of proof by:
- Organizing and presenting your medical history and records of your treatments
- Interviewing witnesses to your condition and calling in expert medical witnesses
- Obtaining video footage from workplace security cameras that recorded your daily activities and/or injury
- Using your injury report to document the time and cause of your accident
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your 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.