Questions About Worker’s Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses. While the federal government administers a workers’ compensation program for federal and certain other types of employees, each state has its own laws and programs for workers’ compensation. For more information on workers’ compensation in South Carolina, contact the law offices of McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A., in Columbia, South Carolina. During your free consultation, we encourage you to ask these questions, as well as any other questions to ask a workers’ comp lawyer.
Who pays workers’ compensation benefits?
In most states, employers are required to purchase insurance for their employees from a workers’ compensation insurance company (also called an insurance carrier). In some states, however, very small companies (with fewer than three or four employees) are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In some states, larger employers who are clearly financially stable are allowed to act as their own workers’ compensation insurance companies (also called self-insuring).
When a worker is injured, his or her claim is filed with the insurance company—or self-insuring employer—who pays medical and disability benefits according to a state-approved formula.
Does workers’ compensation cover only injuries or does it also cover long-term problems and illnesses?
Your injury need not be caused by an accident—such as a fall from a ladder—to be covered by workers’ compensation. Many workers receive compensation for injuries that are caused by overuse or misuse over a long period of time; for example, repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back problems. You may also be compensated for some illnesses and diseases that are the gradual result of work conditions such as heart conditions, lung disease, and stress-related digestive problems.
Do I have to be injured at my workplace to be covered by workers’ compensation?
No. As long as your injury is job-related, it’s covered. For example, you will be covered if you are injured while traveling on business, doing a work-related errand, or even attending a required business-related social function.
Can I be treated by my own doctor and if not can I trust a doctor provided by my employer?
In some states, which McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A., will explain this further, you have a right to see your own doctor if you make this request in writing before the injury occurs. More typically, however, injured workers are referred to a doctor recruited and paid for by their employers. Your doctor’s report will have a big impact upon the benefits you receive. Keep in mind that a doctor paid for by your employer’s insurance company is not your friend. The desire to get future business from your employer or the insurance company may motivate a doctor to minimize the seriousness of your injury or to identify it as a preexisting condition.
Can I ever sue my employer in court over a work-related injury?
Yes. If you are injured because of some reckless or intentional action on the part of your employer, you can bypass the workers’ compensation system and sue your employer in court for a full range of damages, including punitive damages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
To learn more about workers’ compensation in South Carolina, please contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in South Carolina at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates, P.A., today to schedule your initial consultation.
With offices in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter, South Carolina, our personal injury lawyers are ready to serve you.
For immediate help, call today at 888-353-5513.