After an on-the-job injury, the South Carolina workers’ compensation system can provide vital medical care and wage replacement for injured employees and their families. This benefits system exists to protect workers and ensure that they are able to recover as fully as possible. Obtaining these benefits, however, can feel like a daunting task, especially for those who have never experienced a work-related injury. Navigating the system can be confusing, and many claims are denied each year due to simple errors. It’s important to know some common pitfalls that can hurt your workers’ compensation claim.
The Most Common Mistakes That Hurt a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Many injured workers and their families are not familiar with the legal system or the workers’ compensation system. They may not fully understand their rights, their eligibility for benefits, how much they’re owed, how to file, or what to do if their claim is denied. At any point in the process, it is easy to make a small mistake that can have big consequences. Some of the most common mistakes include:
Not reporting the injury.
Under South Carolina state law, workers must report an injury to their employer within 90 of the date of the injury. After this time, it may not be possible to obtain benefits. Additionally, it is best to notify your employer in writing about any injury as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the more complicated your claim may become.
Not seeking medical care.
Seek medical care for any work-related injury as soon as possible. This is important for both your health and your workers’ compensation claim. These claims are based on the existence of a medical condition, and employers (and their insurance companies) will question the validity of any injury if an employee did not deem it important enough to seek the advice of a medical provider. It’s also important to note that in South Carolina, injured workers must obtain care from a doctor that has been approved by the employer or its insurance company.
Not having a lawyer work with the insurance adjuster.
As part of the workers’ compensation claim process, an insurance adjuster will investigate your claim. He will likely contact you seeking a variety of information. Adjusters are typically friendly and understanding, and they make the injured worker feel at ease. However, they are out to protect their own company’s interests, and they may request a recorded statement. While this may seem like an innocent request, they will use what is said in these recordings to undermine a claim any way they can. Avoid giving a recorded statement, so you can protect your claim, and have your lawyer communicate with insurance adjusters.
Not having a lawyer present when signing documents.
Not only will an adjuster ask for a recorded statement, he may ask an injured worker to sign documents. While the workers’ compensation system is not a court of law, signing any document could bind you to a compensation agreement. Often, these initial offers are much lower than what an injured worker deserves.
Not hiring an experienced attorney.
While the law does not require an injured worker to hire an attorney to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, the experience and knowledge of an attorney can be invaluable.
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, Florence, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.