Workplace injuries can be devastating, leaving workers physically and emotionally affected. Knowing the proper steps to take after getting injured on the job is crucial in order to protect your rights, ensure timely medical treatment, and facilitate the workers’ compensation process. This article will guide you through the essential actions you should take immediately following an on-the-job injury in South Carolina.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The first and most important step after getting injured on the job is to seek immediate medical attention. Your health and well-being are the primary concern, and delaying medical treatment can worsen your injury or lead to complications. In South Carolina, employers are required to provide medical treatment for injured workers under the Workers’ Compensation Act. If you get injured at work, you should notify your employer of the injury and request to see a doctor as soon as possible.
It is important to note that you must go to the doctor assigned to you by your employer’s insurance representative. However, if the injury is a medical emergency, you should go to the nearest hospital. In this case, you do not have to wait to see an “authorized physician.”
Report the Injury to Your Employer
You must report your injury to your employer within 90 days from the date of the accident. However, it is advisable to report the injury as soon as possible to ensure that your employer is aware of the incident and can take appropriate action. Another reason to report an injury early is because it lessens the opportunity for your employer to downplay the severity of your injury, or claim you were injured elsewhere.
Remember, time is of the essence. Failure to report your injury within the specified timeframe could result in a loss of workers’ compensation benefits.
Complete the Necessary Documentation
After reporting your injury, your employer should complete the necessary paperwork to initiate the workers’ compensation claim process. These forms will describe the details of the accident and the injuries sustained. This documentation will be vital when seeking compensation and determining the extent of your injuries. Make sure your employer has filed the necessary paperwork.
Preserve Evidence and Witnesses
To strengthen your workers’ compensation claim, you should gather and preserve any relevant evidence related to the accident. This may include photographs of the accident scene, the equipment involved, and any hazardous conditions. Additionally, identifying and securing witnesses who can corroborate the events leading up to the injury can be crucial in validating your claim.
Consult with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Navigating the workers’ compensation process can be complex and overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to heal from an injury. Therefore, it is beneficial to seek legal counsel from an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney can provide invaluable guidance, ensure that your rights are protected, and help you understand the legal process and potential benefits that you may be entitled to under South Carolina law.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Once the necessary documentation is complete, you should file a formal workers’ compensation claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. The claim must be submitted within two years from the date of the injury or the last date of medical treatment provided by the employer.
While some employees fear they might get fired for filing a claim, there’s no reason to worry. State law prohibits employers from firing or otherwise punishing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Violation of that law opens the employer up to a civil lawsuit.
Attend Medical Evaluations
As part of the workers’ compensation process, you may be required to attend medical evaluations arranged by your employer or their insurance company. These evaluations are conducted by appointed doctors to assess the extent of your injuries and your medical condition. It is essential to attend these appointments, as missing them may affect the benefits you receive.
Understand Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If your employer has more than four full-time or part-time employees, they most likely carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are a few exceptions, however, including agricultural employees, railroad employees, Textile Hall Corporation employees, and some real estate agents. If you have questions about your company’s coverage, reach out to your supervisor or HR department for clarification.
Workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina may include medical treatment, compensation for lost wages, temporary or permanent disability benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits in the case of fatal accidents. It is crucial for you to fully understand your entitlements so that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
In South Carolina, workplace injuries are almost always covered even if the worker was at fault. South Carolina workers’ compensation covers all types of workplace accidents, from acute injuries to occupational diseases and repetitive strain injuries.
Return to Work
Once you are sufficiently recovered, your employer may request for you to return to work, possibly with certain accommodations or restrictions. It is essential to communicate openly with your employer and follow any medical restrictions to avoid re-injury. If you are offered light duty work, you must take it in order to keep receiving benefits. If you believe you cannot perform that work, you may request a hearing with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Appeal if Necessary
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied or if you believe you are not receiving adequate benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. An experienced attorney can assist with the appeals process and present your case effectively.
Contact McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates
For more than four decades, the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates have been representing employees who have been injured at their South Carolina workplaces.
Although employees are not required to hire a lawyer to represent them in their South Carolina workers’ compensation claim, doing so can be extremely worthwhile. The attorneys at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates cut through all the legal red tape, making sure that every document is filled out correctly and filed on time. We also make sure our clients fully understand and exercise their rights. We make sure they receive everything they are rightfully owed, including compensation for medical benefits, lost wages, and/or permanent disability.
Our attorneys act as guides and advocates throughout the entire workers’ compensation claim process. Their guidance will help ensure that you don’t make any common slip-ups which could jeoprodize your case and result in a smaller settlement.
McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates also helps families who have lost loved ones to workplace injuries. In these tragic cases, the family is generally entitled to 500 weeks of the workers’ weekly compensation benefits, as well as some or all of the funeral expenses. We are committed to working hard to help families receive the maximum sum possible.
We have seven law offices across the Midlands of South Carolina, in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter. We offer free case evaluations, so give us a call today at 888-353-5513. It won’t cost you anything to see if we can help.®