Accidents in the workplace are common. And depending on the state you live in and your employer, you may be eligible to apply for workers’ compensation. That means you can recover every dollar you have already spent on your medical care and also have the means to cover any future expenses.
A workers’ comp attorney can help you file a claim for workers’ compensation if you are the victim of an accident at your workplace. But they can also offer you legal options if your employer does not offer that coverage or if your claim gets denied.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a benefit that provides employers with health services if they present any illness or injury that was caused by their labor. That usually means coverage for medical bills, rehabilitation therapy, and any disability caused by the same injury.
Many employers offer workers’ compensation as a job benefit, but it is not mandatory in every state. However, even in those states where employers are not obligated to have workers’ compensation coverage, many choose to have it since it can prevent them from future lawsuits.
Do All Employers Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
It depends on many factors, such as the state you live in, the local workers’ law, and in many cases, your employer. In some states, such as California, workers’ compensation is required, while others do not make it mandatory.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission establishes that workers’ comp is mandatory in the state, but there are no penalties for employers who don’t offer that benefit.
Most big companies choose to offer workers’ compensation to their employees because a worker who receives workers’ compensation benefits is renouncing to pursue any further legal action against the company.
Also, most federal employers across the country offer workers’ compensation under the requirements set by the Federal Workers’ Compensation System instead of private insurance.
Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, thousands of Americans suffer workplace injuries yearly, but not all have workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on their state, workers must meet a certain criterion to be eligible. In South Carolina, for instance, workers’ compensation is required for employers with four workers or more.
Suppose the company you work for has workers’ compensation insurance, and you got injured at work, during working hours, or performing work-related duties. In that case, you may be eligible for those benefits.
However, even if you live in a state where workers’ compensation is mandatory and your employer offers the benefit, there are some requirements you need to fulfill before filing a workers’ compensation claim:
You Must Be an Employee
Even though that fact may seem obvious, many types of employment can limit your eligibility for workers’ compensation, for instance, independent contractors, salesmen, consultants, and freelancers are not considered “employees” for many companies, and therefore they are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Volunteers usually are not considered employees either, although there are some exceptions. For instance, many states mandate workers’ compensation benefits for volunteer firefighters.
Your Illness or Condition Must Be Work-Related
While there are some instances when the line can be blurry, most work-related injuries and conditions are evidently related to the workplace. Some of the work-related accidents our attorneys see the most are:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Falls from heights
- Chemical exposure
- Back injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
However, some long-term conditions or injuries that occurred during lunchtime or while commuting may not be considered workplace-related and are generally not eligible for workers’ compensation.
Your attorney can help you determine if your injury can be linked to your workplace conditions and offer you legal advice to take your next steps.
Workers’ Compensation Exemptions
According to the S.C. Code Ann. § 42-1-360, workers’ compensation benefits may not be available for some workers, even if the previous conditions are met. That tends to be particularly true for:
- Casual employees
- Anyone employed by a service with fewer than four employees and earning less than $3,000 annually
- State and county fair employees
- Agricultural workers
- Railroad workers
- Commissioned agricultural salespeople
- Commissioned real estate agents
- Federal employees
- Undocumented workers
- Seasonal workers
You should talk to an experienced attorney if you were denied workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury. They will help you find out which options are available for you.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between an injured employee and the company they work for. This agreement is meant to cover all the expenses a worker had after their work-related injury. And can be delivered in a single payment or structured in yearly payments.
Workers’ compensation laws differ in all states, but a settlement usually covers medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to the incident.
How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Pay?
Since workers’ compensation laws are different in every state and for every employer, there is no typical workers’ compensation amount. And there are many factors to weigh in before pricing a case.
Our attorneys have witnessed awards starting at $2,000 on the low end and millions of dollars awarded on the high end, depending on the accident type and the associated long-term expenses. However, workers’ compensation usually covers the following:
- ER services
- Medical care
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation therapy
- Damages to property
- Psychological consequences (such as anxiety or PTSD)
Talk to your attorney to know exactly how much your workers’ compensation case is worth. They can evaluate all your damages and losses and estimate a value for your case.
Do I Need an Attorney to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Workplaces are meant to be safe spaces where people can focus on doing their job without any risk of getting injured. If an employer does not meet those conditions, talking to an attorney could be the difference between getting a fair settlement or walking out empty-handed.
If you or someone you love were injured or developed a condition related to your job, you might be eligible to pursue damages through workers’ compensation. Contact a workers’ compensation attorney at Miller, Dawson, Sigal & Ward, and let us guide you through the legal process.