Columbia, Lexington, Orangeburg, Sumter, Camden, Newberry, and Aiken, SC.
When you are injured on the job or develop a serious illness because of your occupation, you don’t just have your own health to worry about. You also have to deal with financial responsibilities, medical bills, and the duties that you cannot fulfill because of your injury. At times like these, many types of occupations qualify for workers’ compensation, which allows you to receive the money you need to meet these additional responsibilities.
To find out how you can benefit from the services of our highly experienced Lexington, Sumter, and Columbia workers’ compensation attorneys, call the lawyers at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A. for a free legal consultation at 888-353-5513.
Prior to workers’ compensation laws, courts were bogged down with numerous lawsuits by injured industrial workers. These workers’ only recourse for recovering compensation for medical expenses and lost income was to hire a lawyer and sue.
Sometimes a worker settled his or her case successfully or prevailed in court. But by the time he got any relief, court and lawyer expenses often resulted in the loss of home, family, and health. The number of indigent, injured workers this created put a large strain on society.
Workers’ Compensation: A Financial Compromise
Workers’ compensation laws arose because of the competing desires of workers and companies. Workers did not want to be left holding the bill for medical expenses after a work injury, and companies did not want to be sued for an outrageous amount as a result of work injuries. The two sides therefore struck a compromise that exists to this day:
- Workers give up their right to sue their employers in exchange for swift and assured benefits
- Employers give up their common law defenses in exchange for limits on their liability
Over time, workers’ compensation has evolved into a system of statutes enacted by each state that provide lost income, medical, and permanent disability benefits for employees who are injured on the job. If you have suffered an on-the-job injury, workers’ compensation is supposed to be there for you.
What Am I Entitled to Under Workers’ Compensation?
The Workers’ Compensation Act entitles certain employees to benefits for injuries, occupational illness, or death related to their employment. Whether you are at your worksite or not, any injury that is related to your job is covered by workers’ compensation.
If you are covered by workers’ compensation, some of the benefits you may be entitled to may include:
- Payment of medical expenses, including mileage to and from medical appointments
- Payment of prescription medication
- Prescription reimbursement
- Two-thirds of your weekly wage, up to a maximum, while you are unable to work and are off work
- Payments to replace a portion of your weekly wage while you are unable to work fully
- A disfigurement award for visible scars and burns under certain circumstances
- A money award to pay you for permanent injury
- Penalties if the workers’ compensation carrier does not follow certain rules
If you are not sure whether your injury qualifies for you to receive these benefits, contact our attorneys right away. We will make sure you are getting the benefits you need and deserve. As a team of lawyers experienced with these cases, we can help you navigate the application or appeal process to make sure you get the full amount of coverage to which you are entitled.
South Carolina requires nearly all employers who employ more than four full-time or part-time employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As an employee, you are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance whether you are full- or part-time, an adult or a minor.
You may not be covered by workers’ compensation if you fall into the following categories:
- Agricultural employees
- Railroad employees
- Textile Hall Corporation employees
- Some real estate agents
Volunteers and contract employees are not covered by workers’ compensation unless the employer has obtained insurance coverage for those workers. If you are in one of these positions and are injured on the job, you may be able to sue your employer, and should contact our work injury lawyers immediately.
Common On-the-Job Injuries
To be eligible for workers’ compensation, your injury must have occurred while you were on duty within the scope and course of your employment. An automobile accident while running personal errands over your lunch hour will not qualify for workers’ compensation, but a slip and fall while moving equipment at the direction of your employer will qualify.
Common workplace injuries include:
Not all common workplace injuries are accidents. You may have a repetitive injury like carpal tunnel syndrome or chronic back problems. Other illnesses such as heart conditions, lung disease, or mesothelioma may also be attributable to work conditions. These injuries can occur for any number of reasons while you perform the essential duties of your job.
Suing a Third Party After a Work Accident
While an employee covered by workers’ compensation cannot sue her employer, she may file suit against third parties whose negligence caused her to be injured. For example, if a trucker is injured when an automobile hits his truck, the trucker could file a workers’ compensation claim against his employers’ insurance carrier and a negligence suit against the driver of the automobile.
Employers are generally not required to advise their employees on the specifics of the workers’ compensation coverage they provide. But most states require that a summary of the state’s workers’ compensation laws and the name of their insurance carrier be posted in a prominently visible place at the work site. If an employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, an employee who is injured on the job may sue his or her employer directly, and many states award penalties against such employers.
If an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company goes bankrupt, sometimes other insurance carriers will purchase and take over the bankrupt carriers’ claims. Failing this, states have set up funds to guarantee that injured workers’ benefits are honored.
It is fairly common for employers to request that you undergo a medical evaluation after you file a workers’ compensation claim. This allows your employer to get a better idea of which benefits you are qualified to receive under workers’ compensation laws. The results of this examination can affect the final outcome of your case, so you need to be aware of how to prepare for it.
When preparing for your medical evaluation, keep the following tips in mind:
- Dress consistently with your injury– If your condition requires you to use crutches, a sling, or a neck brace, be sure to wear one to the examination. This will prevent you from making the injury worse while letting the doctor know that the injury is serious.
- Know your own medical history– One of the doctor’s tasks is to make sure your symptoms are not from a different injury than the one you suffered on the job. If you are familiar with your own history of medical issues, you can point out all the ways your injury differs from previous conditions.
- Know your symptoms and treatment– Go over the tests you’ve undergone so far, the medications you are taking, and any procedures you’ve already had done. The more you can remember about all of these, the better.
- Be able to explain how the accident happened– Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so you won’t be denied payment because you caused your injury. However, your injury does have to be related to your job, and a detailed account of the accident will provide more evidence that the accident was work-related.
Make sure to arrive early to your examination, and bring a friend or family member who can take notes, ask questions, and provide support. In the event that you want to challenge the physician’s ruling, another person in the room may help corroborate whatever you felt was wrong about the way the doctor conducted the medical examination.
Have Someone on Your Side in a Workers’ Comp Case
Despite the safeguards, workers’ compensation insurance companies are businesses interested in keeping their costs down, and employers tend also to be interested in keeping their workers’ compensation premiums as low as possible. You may, therefore, need someone knowledgeable in workers’ compensation law on your side. This is especially true in the event that you have a severe injury or permanent impairment that prevents you from continuing to perform your job.
Workers’ compensation cases are usually more complex than they may at first appear. Your injuries, for example, may be covered even though they were caused by inadequate instruction or supervision. The insurance carrier may ask you to settle your claim by trying to convince you that coverage does apply because of circumstances surrounding your particular case. If you have your own workers’ compensation attorney with the resources to properly investigate such circumstances, he can help you gain fair recovery by helping you strengthen your position and pursue all available legal remedies.
Workers’ Comp Attorneys Serving South Carolina
At McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, we take your workers’ compensation claim seriously, and will do everything we can to make sure you get the payment that you deserve under the law. Our Workers’ Compensation attorneys have been helping residents of South Carolina for many years and have achieved excellent results. With over 30 years’ experience and a proven record of success in South Carolina, you want our workers’ compensation lawyers fighting for you.
To schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation with McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, call 888-353-5513 or contact us by filling out the form at the top of this page. We serve clients in Columbia, Lexington, Sumter, Camden, Newberry, Orangeburg, Aiken, and the surrounding areas.