Understanding how to file for Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina is crucial for any worker. The process can seem overwhelming at first, but with the right guidance from a workers’ compensation lawyer in South Carolina, you can navigate it effectively.
Here, our team at Miller Dawson Sigal & Ward offers step-by-step advice and answers common questions that arise when you’re getting ready to file for workers’ compensation.
How Can I File for Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?
Applying for Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina entails a series of steps, each essential to ensuring you secure the benefits you need for recovery. Here’s a comprehensive guide based on information from the South Carolina Bar on your rights under the SC Workers’ Compensation Act:
- First and foremost, report your injury to your supervisor immediately after the incident. It’s crucial to act swiftly as there is a 90-day deadline following the accident.
- Once informed, your employer will report your injury to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission and their insurance provider.
- According to the Workers’ Compensation Act, you are entitled to receive medical treatment, temporary total compensation for lost time, and permanent disability benefits in case of a permanent injury.
- However, your employer or their insurance company will usually determine the treating doctor. If you seek treatment from your chosen physician without their consent, you may be responsible for the resulting medical expenses.
- Should you feel the need for a separate evaluation for the specific disability, you can choose another physician. But, keep in mind this would not be covered by your employer.
What Happens If My Claim Is Contested or Denied?
In the unfortunate event that your claim is contested or denied, you don’t need to give up. You are granted the right to request a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- At this stage, you or your lawyer should file a Form 50. This form outlines all parties involved, the accident’s date and description, who you reported it to, your suffered injuries, any medical treatment needed, any disfigurement you’ve received, and any other relief you’re requesting.
- Following this, the employer’s insurance company, known as the carrier, responds to your claims by filing a Form 51. They may either accept or reject what you’ve declared in your Form 50.
- Subsequently, your case gets placed on the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s docket, and a Commissioner is assigned to fact-check and rule on the law.
- A hearing typically takes place within three to five months, during which you’ll present your case. Medical testimony, often presented as a deposition, and your medical records form the basis of the evidence.
What Happens After the Commissioner Rules on My Case?
Once the Commissioner has made a ruling, they will issue an Opinion and Award outlining their findings and the relief, if any, you are entitled to. If you’re unhappy with the decision, there is a chance to appeal:
- You can appeal to the full Commission, which includes all the Workers’ Compensation Commissioners, excluding the one who originally heard the case.
- If still dissatisfied after this hearing, you have the option to take your case to the Circuit Court and even the South Carolina Supreme Court.
- Be aware that you only have 14 days from the date of the Order to file an appeal.
Remember that negligence doesn’t factor into the payment of a workers’ compensation claim unless the injured worker was under the influence during the injury. Always report any incident promptly to your supervisor to ensure your rights are upheld.
What Information do I Need to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
When you’re preparing to file a workers’ compensation claim, there’s some essential information you’ll need to have on hand. This includes:
- Details about the accident, such as when and where it happened, and how the injury occurred.
- Information about your employer, like the company name and address.
- Specifics about your injury or illness, including the body parts affected and the type of harm suffered.
- Medical reports or documents related to your injury or illness.
- Your personal details like your full name, address, Social Security number, and employment details.
How Long do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in South Carolina?
Timing is crucial when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim. In South Carolina, you must report the injury to your employer within 90 days of the accident.
However, to protect all your rights, it’s best to report the accident immediately. Then you have up to two years to file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
What Happens After I File My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Once you’ve filed your claim, several things will happen:
- The claim will be reviewed by your employer’s insurance company.
- If approved, you’ll receive benefits, including medical treatment and a portion of your wages if you’re unable to work.
- If your claim is denied, or you disagree with the decision, you can request a hearing before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- During this hearing, you’ll have the opportunity to present your case and any relevant evidence.
What Benefits Can I Receive from Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina are designed to cover various costs associated with workplace injuries. These benefits include:
- Medical expenses for treating your work-related injury.
- Wage replacement if you’re unable to work due to your injury. This usually equals two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
- Compensation for any permanent disability or disfigurement resulting from your injury.
- Death benefits for dependents if a work-related injury results in death.
What Happens If I Can’t Return to Work After My Injury?
If your injury leaves you unable to return to work, you might qualify for different types of benefits:
- Temporary total disability benefits if you can’t work at all during your recovery.
- Permanent total disability benefits if you can’t return to work due to a lasting impairment.
- Permanent partial disability benefits if you can work but your earning capacity is reduced.
It’s important to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer to understand your rights and the benefits you may be entitled to.
Can I Sue My Employer Instead of Filing for Workers’ Compensation?
In most cases, workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy in South Carolina. This means that you usually can’t sue your employer for a workplace injury.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as when an injury is caused by an employer’s intentional act. Consulting with a lawyer can help clarify these complex legal issues.
How Can I Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today?
Filing for Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina can be a daunting process. Whether it’s knowing the steps to take, understanding your rights, or dealing with claim denials, it’s a lot to handle alone. Reach out and contact us.
Our experienced attorneys are ready to guide you through the process, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.