How long it takes to start receiving workers' compensation benefits after an on-the-job injury depends on several factors that are discussed below. Workers' comp is no-fault insurance that covers the work-related accidental injuries and occupational illnesses of most South Carolina employees. Benefits include payment of all your medical bills and approximately two-thirds of your weekly salary during the time that you're off work for treatment and recovery.
Nearly every South Carolina employer with four or more workers on the payroll is required to carry workers' comp insurance. You don't have to prove that anyone did anything wrong that resulted in your injury, and you generally give up the right to sue your employer over a work injury. Your only recourse is a workers' comp claim, which you may file even if you caused your own accident. Your boss cannot fire you or retaliate against you for filing.
Meeting Deadlines Is an Important First Step
The first step toward expediting your claim is meeting deadlines in the filing process. The South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission (SCWCC) gives you 90 days to report a work-related accidental injury and two years to file a claim for benefits, but you should do both right away. Report your injury in writing to your supervisor as soon as possible after it happens. If your employer does not file a claim on your behalf with the SCWCC, you should do so on your own by filing a Form 50 (for injuries or illnesses) or a Form 52 (for the work-related death of a loved one) from the SCWCC website. When doing so, check box 13a to indicate you're filing a claim but not requesting a hearing.
Delaying Could Jeopardize Your Claim
If you miss the reporting or filing deadline, you'll probably lose your right to benefits. If you don't miss the deadlines but wait until the last minute to report or file, your employer's insurance company, which pays workers' comp benefits, can cite your delay as evidence that your injury is not work-related or that you're not as badly hurt as you say you are.
Get Medical Care and Document Treatment
You'll have to seek medical care from a doctor certified by your employer's insurer (not your own doctor). It's very important to your claim that you retain and organize all receipts and other documentation of your treatment so that you can get the reimbursement you deserve. You should also keep all medical appointments, take all medication as prescribed, and follow the doctor's treatment plan conscientiously.
If your workers' comp claim isn't disputed by your employer or the insurer, you can start receiving weekly wage benefits as soon as seven days after you file. If you're off work for 14 days or more, you should receive benefits that are retroactive to the date of your injury. Those benefits should then continue until the doctor releases you to return to work.
Factors That Can Delay a Claim for Compensation
If your injury is serious enough to require expensive medical treatment and a long recovery time, there's a good chance that your employer or the insurance company will look for ways to avoid paying your claim. The insurer's tactics might include:
- Contending that your injury is not work-related
- Accusing you of injuring yourself intentionally
- Purposely delaying the progress of your claim
In such cases, you have the right to request an informal conference or a hearing before the SCWCC. If your claim is still denied, you may appeal the decision in civil court, but doing so will delay your claim even further, especially if you're trying to handle it on your own while recovering from an injury.
How an Attorney Can Help
The best way to ensure that your claim proceeds in a timely fashion is to consult an experienced workers' comp attorney. Your lawyer will know how to counter the employer's or insurer's attempts to delay, dispute, or deny your claim. Your attorney can organize and present your medical evidence, request an independent medical exam by another doctor, call in an expert witness or a vocational specialist to strengthen your claim, represent you at your conference or hearing, and take your case to the SC Court of Appeals if necessary. Simply knowing that you have an attorney will make the employer and insurer take your case seriously and handle it in a timely fashion.
Have You Been Injured on the Job in Charleston, South Carolina?
If you've been hurt at your job, you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Myrtle Beach office directly at 843.488.3165 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach, Florence, or North Charleston office locations.