A South Carolina business or company with four or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance, which covers employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. If you’re hurt in the process of doing your job, you may file a workers’ compensation claim against your employer’s insurance company.
While some claims are simple enough to handle alone, others are best pursued with the help of an attorney. If you’re not sure whether your claim requires a lawyer, most law firms will offer a free consultation. The consultation can help you understand your options and decide if the firm is the best choice to handle your case.
The firm you choose to handle your worker’s compensation claim should demonstrate the following characteristics:
- Experience handling workers’ compensation cases
- Sufficient financial resources
- Fee transparency
- Emphasis on communication
- Clear dedication to winning your case
Questions to Ask During Your Initial Workers' Compensation Consultation
What percentage of your practice would you say is devoted to workers’ compensation cases?
Your best choice is a law firm that focuses on representing injured workers who have filed workers’ compensation claims. (You do not want a firm that represents employers or their insurance companies.)
Will you or someone else actually work on my case?
Unless the firm is very small, your case will probably be handled by a team consisting of:
- Your lawyer
- Associate attorneys
- Legal/administrative assistants
Your primary attorney, however, should be supervising everyone and staying on top of your case at all times.
How much workers’ comp experience will the lawyer handling my case have?
More experience is always better, but you should look for someone with a minimum of five years of experience in workers’ compensation claims.
Does the attorney who will handle my case have any bar association certifications in workers’ compensation?
State bar associations often certify lawyers in areas where they have wide experience and proven expertise.
What is your workers’ compensation case rate of success?
If the firm can show proof of success in a high percentage of cases, this is a good sign.
Do you frequently take workers’ compensation cases to a hearing or to court?
The great majority of cases are settled out of court, which is less expensive and less time-consuming for all concerned. It is possible, though, that the insurance company will refuse to offer you a reasonable settlement. In such a case, you might have to request a hearing before the SCWCC and possibly take your case to the state Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. You want to know that your attorney has the skill and experience to do so.
Who will communicate with me about the status of my case—and how often?
Consistent communication and information about the progress of your case are essential. Most successful attorneys are busy with several cases at once, but your calls and emails should be answered in a timely fashion. Having regular access to a paralegal or assistant when you have questions or need updates is a good sign.
Do I have a strong case?
You’re not looking for promises of a certain settlement at this point. (In fact, a lawyer who guarantees a specific dollar amount should raise a red flag for you.) You can, however, expect a confident assessment of your case from an attorney who believes you have a solid claim.
Do I have a personal injury claim against a third party?
It’s possible that you might have, in addition to your workers’ comp claim, a cause of action against:
- A non-employee of your company who caused your work-related accident
- A manufacturer of faulty equipment that injured you
- A repair service that maintains the equipment that caused your injury
- Another third party who is partially liable for your injuries
You want to know that your lawyer is prepared to seek compensation from any liable third party, as well as from your employer’s insurance company.
What should I do/not do while awaiting a decision on my claim?
Your lawyer should be able to explain clearly the steps you should take while your case is pending and warn you about common mistakes that might hurt your claim.
How much do you charge?
Most firms take workers’ comp cases on a contingency fee basis. This means your lawyer is paid an agreed-upon percentage of your settlement. You’re likely to get a significantly higher settlement with an attorney than without one, and you generally pay no attorney fees until your case is won.
Can you provide me with any references?
Former clients or respected law firms in the area might be able to share their knowledge of the firm and/or give you a recommendation.
At your first consultation, the lawyer will need some basic information to evaluate your case and answer your questions thoroughly. You should be prepared with the following:
- Names/contact info for your employer and the insurance company
- Copies of any correspondence from the employer/insurance company about your claim
- Your job description and how long you’ve worked at your place of employment
- Details of any previous accidents/injuries/illnesses or disciplinary problems
- Details of any pre-existing medical conditions
- Copies of your accident/injury report and details about when/to whom you submitted the report
- Name/contact info for the doctor treating you and dates/details of treatment
- Names/contact info for any witnesses who saw the accident
It’s also a good idea to take notes during your consultation and be sure the attorney has explained everything in a way that you can understand. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you need it.
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.