South Carolina businesses with four or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides no-fault coverage of employees’ medical bills and wages lost due to work-related injuries or illnesses. You don’t have to prove your employer did anything wrong that resulted in your injury or illness. Even if it was somehow your own fault, you may still file a claim for benefits. Your employer may not retaliate against you or fire you for filing a claim.
Accidents and Conditions Leading to Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation claims can be filed for specific accidents that cause immediate injuries or for work-related conditions that lead to illnesses over time. For example:
- Exposure to dangerous substances/materials
- Lifting, carrying, or moving heavy objects
- Company vehicle wrecks
- Using improperly maintained equipment
- Slipping and falling
- Contact with machinery or falling objects
- Repetitive motion
Injuries Suffered by Workers’ Compensation Claimants
Such accidents can lead to a variety of injuries, illnesses, and disabilities:
- Strained, sprained, or dislocated joints
- Cuts, punctures, and scarring of skin
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Bruises and contusions
- Respiratory problems
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries or paralysis
- Head injuries, concussions, and brain trauma
- Temporary or permanent disabilities
How to File Your Charleston Workers' Compensation Claim
If you sustain one of the injuries or illnesses above or any other work-related health problem, you should immediately start the process outlined below:
- You have 90 days to report your injury to your employer. It’s best to do it immediately, however. File a report in writing if possible.
- Although you have two years to file your claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC), you should do so right away by requesting a form 50 from the SCWCC.
- See a doctor on the insurance company’s list of certified physicians.
- Strictly follow the doctor’s orders/treatment plan.
- Keep records of all medical expenses, as well as a journal detailing your recovery.
When You Need an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney In Charleston, SC
If your injury or illness is severe and your medical bills are very high, the insurance company’s adjusters might try to deny your claim or offer you a low settlement. They are paid to give you the least money possible so they can keep the company profitable.
Even when you’re at your best, trying to fight these well-trained professionals on your own is extremely difficult. When you’re injured, hospitalized, or disabled, dealing with the insurance company by yourself is virtually impossible. An experienced lawyer will take your claim through the appeals process and protect your right to fair compensation.
Denials and Appeals Of Your Charleston Workers' Compensation Claim
More than 10% of South Carolina workers’ compensation claims are denied for a variety of reasons. If your claim is denied or your settlement inadequate, you have two years to start the worker’s compensation appeals process, but appealing sooner is always better. There are five possible steps in the process:
- Informal conference
- SCWCC hearing request
- Commission review
- SC Court of Appeals
- SC Supreme Court
At each of these levels of appeal, there are rigid procedural rules to follow and strict time limits. If you fail to follow them, you could lose all benefits. An experienced attorney will:
- Follow all rules of procedure
- Meet all deadlines
- Collect all medical bills to evaluate your claim
- Gather, organize, and present your evidence convincingly
- Negotiate with the insurance company to get a fair settlement
- Represent you at your hearing or review
- Take your case to court if necessary
How to Choose the Right Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Charleston
Most workers’ comp law firms will offer a free, no-obligation consultation. This is an opportunity:
- For you to learn all you can about the firm and decide if you’d like it to represent you
- For the attorney to evaluate your case and decide whether to take you on as a client
You’ll meet with a lawyer who is assisted by a secretary or paralegal. The lawyer will ask you a lot of questions about your accident, your injury or illness, and other relevant factors. You should also ask questions of the attorney in order to be sure the firm has all of the following qualifications to handle your case:
A Record of Success.
You want a firm with a proven track record of winning fair workers’ comp settlements for clients over the years.
South Carolina workers’ compensation laws are complex and sometimes tricky. You want an attorney who focuses on personal injury and workers’ compensation law, not someone who handles it as a sideline. To be sure there are no divided loyalties, you also want to be sure the firm represents claimants only—not employers or insurance companies.
The more experience your attorney has, the higher the level of knowledge is likely to be. Don’t hesitate to ask specific questions on this topic.
During your consultation, the attorney should listen to you and answer your questions clearly and thoroughly. You also want a lawyer who’s going to stay in touch with you and keep you informed about your case, focusing on present issues while staying one step ahead of the other side.
Most firms take cases on a contingency fee basis so that you pay no attorney fees until your case is won. Be sure to ask how much and when you will pay. There could also be other expenses like fees for expert witnesses or independent investigators. Your lawyer should make clear how, when, and by whom such expenses will be paid. If you can’t afford to pay them upfront, you need to know if the firm can absorb these expenses and deduct them from your settlement later.
Solid support staff.
You should expect courteous, efficient service from all staff members at the firm. Look for signs of good morale among everyone you encounter there.
You should leave your consultation convinced that your attorney is 100% in your corner, believes in your claim, and intends to fight until you get a fair settlement.
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 Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, Conway, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.