Workers’ Compensation Law
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Workers' Compensation Lawyers in Columbia, South Carolina
A workplace injury can have a huge impact on your life. If you or a loved one were injured or killed on the job, it is imperative to seek the advice of a workers’ compensation lawyer to understand your benefits. In addition to seeking payment for treatment, you could find yourself out of work and out of a paycheck for some time (or even permanently) unless established timelines and procedures are correctly followed. And the longer you're out of work, the more likely it is that you'll require expensive medical treatments.
It is important to understand that an employer and their insurance company have financial incentives to reduce their costs, and this could mean pushing you back to work before you've received all necessary medical treatment. While your employer is allowed to choose your doctor, working with an experienced workers’ comp attorney can help make sure you get the care you deserve.
The employee's insurance company may also make a settlement offer that excludes compensation to which you are entitled but that you may not be aware of, such as permanent disability. Their system may try to bury you in complicated paperwork, asking you to give up important rights without any clear benefit to you. If you feel that your employer is treating you like a second-class citizen after your injury, or you want your rights explained by someone whose only priority is to fight for you, contact our experienced Columbia workers’ comp lawyers today.
How Insurance Requirements Are Managed by the States
South Carolina workers’ comp laws are designed to make sure that you're covered in the event of a workplace accident. Workers’ comp covers both your medical treatment and lost income without any need to prove that your employer was at fault for your injuries – you only need to show that you were injured at work.
The laws were enacted to provide payment of medical bills and wage replacement during the period of disability, as well as for compensation for permanent disabilities, disfigurement or death to any employee injured on the job without regard to fault. Prior to these laws, the employer was held responsible for injuries or a death to an employee that resulted from a negligent act. But that placed the burden of proof on the injured employee. Since workers’ comp legislation provides for a single remedy, the need for a judgment by a court and the related costs are eliminated.
The tradeoff of legal responsibility for a workers’ comp claim limits the employee's recourse but requires the employer to provide insurance coverage per the state's requirements to help the injured employee return to work without incurring major financial setbacks. In addition, the employer has a vested interest in implementing workplace safety programs to reduce the number of preventable injuries. A majority of the workforce* in the United States is covered by the provisions of legal statutes established by the governing body for the state where the workplace injury occurred.
NOTE: *Exceptions most often include business owners, railroad workers, federal employees, independent contractors, domestic workers, longshoremen, part-time employees, cab drivers and some agricultural workers.
Workers’ Compensation Laws in South Carolina
South Carolina's workers' compensation laws were enacted to provide insurance coverage to pay for an employee's work-related injuries, disabilities or death. Today, most workers* in a company of more than four employees are protected by the state's Workers' Compensation Act and its commission. Under the state laws, employers are required to furnish the commission proof of insurance coverage or satisfactory proof of their ability to pay benefits in the amount and manner due an injured employee.
NOTE: *Notable exceptions to workers’ comp coverage are railroad employees, certain casual employees, federal workers, agricultural workers, certain real estate salespersons and elected corporate officers.
Report the Accident & Seek Medical Care
To avoid losing the payment of medical fees and/or other compensation, an employee injured at work should immediately report the accident to his or her employer. Although the extent of injuries or illness is not always felt or known at the time of an incident, the employee must report to the employer within 90 days from the date of the accident. Failure to comply within the timelines stated in the statutes can negate possible awards or compensation.
Although an employee who fails to report the injury within 90 days of the accident may lose their benefits, he or she has up to two years to file a workers' compensation claim with the state's commission. Should the employee die due to their work-related injuries, the employee's dependents (or parents if no dependents exist) must file a claim within two years of the worker's death to be eligible to receive benefits.
How Are South Carolina Workers’ Comp Benefits Paid?
In South Carolina, once an employer is notified by the employee or learns about the accident, the company has 10 days to report it to the commission. Workers’ comp benefits pay for necessary medical expenses and loss of wages, as well as permanent disability or disfigurement, while the worker is disabled by the injury or occupational disease resulting from continuous exposure during normal working conditions. The employer's insurance carrier is responsible for making payments.
NOTE: If an employee neglects to report the injury or illness within 90 days of the accident, he or she may lose their benefits.
Generally speaking, after seven days an injured employee is eligible for two-thirds his or her average weekly wage (limited to 100 percent of the state's average weekly wage). Once the period of disability exceeds 14 days, the employee is eligible for compensation from the date of the accident. For 2015, the commission approved the maximum weekly compensation of $766.05, and the maximum award for total disability or death is limited to 500 weeks of paid benefits.
The administration and monitoring of accident reports and any resulting claims are the responsibility of the commission's claims department. After an accident is reported to the claims department, its progress through the system is monitored at various stages by claims personnel. Individual case records are reviewed to ensure that the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act and the rules and regulations of the commission are observed.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission
The South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission is comprised of seven (7) commissioners appointed by the governor of South Carolina with the advice and consent of the state senate. Commissioners serve terms of six (6) years each. The governor also designates one commissioner to serve as chairman for a term of two (2) years. The chairman is the chief executive officer and is responsible for implementing the policies established by the commission.
To verify an employer's workers’ comp insurance coverage, visit the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission website for contact information. Although nonjudicial conflicts are often handled by the claims department, it is always advisable to have an experienced lawyer by your side to ensure the claim is properly presented. For legal assistance with your case, contact Best & Flatt, P.A. at 803-252-1800 to speak directly with an experienced South Carolina workers' compensation attorney.
Speak With a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Columbia
Seek the advice of a workers’ compensation attorney in Columbia by calling our office and speaking to one of our experienced workers’ comp lawyers. Call us at 803-252-1800 today to speak with an attorney who will help understand your rights.