Posts Tagged ‘workers comp’

5 Facts South Carolina Workers Need to Know About Workers’ Comp

If you’re injured on the job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The benefits are designed to cover the cost of not working as well as medical costs incurred as a result of your injury. Here are five essential facts you should know before making a claim.

1. Most South Carolina Workers Are Covered

Under South Carolina law, all businesses with four or more employees must provide their employees with workers’ compensation coverage. There are exceptions for the railroad and agricultural industries, and some businesses with low payroll costs may also be exempted.

If you are a partner, a business owner, or a freelancer you may not be covered, but the majority of workers in South Carolina have workers’ comp coverage.

2. You Don’t Have to Prove Negligence

When you bring a personal injury lawsuit against another party, you have to prove they were negligent, but the standards for workers’ comp are different. As long as you sustained your injury while on the job, you are entitled to receive compensation.

3. Workers’ Comp Provides Weekly Benefits

If you qualify for workers’ compensation, you can receive weekly benefits. The benefits are worth ⅔ of your weekly salary up to a set maximum. As of 2020, the maximum workers’ comp benefit in South Carolina is $866.67 per week, and this number gets adjusted every January.

If you are permanently disabled, you can receive benefits for up to 500 weeks. People who suffer brain damage or paralysis may receive weekly benefits for life.

4. You May Be Entitled to Benefits Even If You Can Work

In some cases, you may suffer an injury that prevents you from doing your regular job but allows you to keep working in another capacity. In this situation, you can receive temporary partial benefits for up to 340 weeks. These benefits pay ⅔ of the difference between your current and past job.

For instance, if you normally earn $1000 a week but take a job earning $400 after your injury, the difference is $600, and you can qualify for $400 in weekly workers’ comp benefits.

5. Workers’ Comp Can Provide Additional Benefits

In addition to weekly payments, you may qualify for some lump sum benefits. The workers’ comp program in South Carolina has a schedule which outlines potential payments for certain disabilities. For instance, if you lose total use of a foot, you can receive the equivalent of ⅔ of your income for 140 weeks.

Disabilities not listed on the schedule may lead to the equivalent of up to ⅔ of your wages times 500 weeks. If you suffer disfigurement to your face, head, or other visible body parts, you may receive additional compensation for up to 50 weeks.

Workers compensation claims can also include the following:

In most cases, you need to make a claim within 90 days of your injury so you need to act quickly, and when applying, you need the right workers comp attorney in your corner.

A South Carolina Super Lawyer for workers’ compensation, Ryan Montgomery can provide you with the personalized attention and expertise you need for your case. To learn more, call us to set up a no-cost case evaluation today.

South Carolina Coronavirus and Workers’ Compensation

Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim if I Get the Coronavirus?

Section 42-1-160 of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act defines an injury in South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law. An “injury” means only an injury arising out of and in the scope of employment and shall not include a disease in any form, except when it results naturally and unavoidably from the accident. Diseases are further defined by Section 42-11-10 of the Act.

In short, the South Carolina State Legislature did not intend for community diseases such as the flu, colds and potentially the Coronaviris (COVID-19) to be deemed work related (compensable) under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.

South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Diseases

While the COVID-19 / Coronavirus is potentially a disease, it is not likely that it is considered a disease within the definitions of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Section 42-11-10 addresses “Occupational Disease” which means a disease arising out of an in the course of employment that is due to the hazarsd in excess of those ordinarily incidnet to employment and is peculiar to the occupation in which the employee is engaged.

In other words the disease must be specific to the type of job and be because of that job. Most occupational disease claims are with employment types where the employee is around chemicals, fumes, silica, asbestos and specific chemicals or substances that are because of the job in which they are employed. It is unlikely that the intent was to compensate an employee for community based illness or disease like the Coronavirus / COVID-19 as that would give rise to flu claims, cold, an other illness. In addition, the Coronavirus is not peculiar to employment. You can contract this anywhere thus the reason the government has discouraged gatherings of greater than 100 people. It is not something you get just at your employer like if you were exposed to asbestos in the workplace and nowhere else.

What Do I Do About Work During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Employers seem to appreciate communication from the employees. If you are scared of contracting the illness and spreading it on then bring it to the attention of your employer. Depending on the type of employment that employer may be able to modify your job duties to alleviate some of your fears. You may be permitted to work from home. A face mask may be provided. Direct contact with other personnel may be limited. You may also ask you employer if you have access to any paid time off through vacation, personal time, or through the Family Medical Leave Act that might cover you if you decide not to come to work. At the end of they day, you must do what is best for you but with every choice there can be ramifications including, but not limited to, unpaid time off, reprimands and/or termination.

Disclaimer

The Novel Coronavirus / COVID-19 presents novel legal challenges. The reality is that this is very new and everyone is still trying to figure it all out. Given that newness of these issues, this blog is for informational purposes only, is not intended to be relied upon and does not constitute legal advice. For advice specific to your situation you should contact a lawyer.

Injured on the Job? Here Are Some Answers

Injured on the Job? Here Are Some Answers

How Long Do I have to Report a Workers Comp Injury?

Under South Carolina Law you have 90 days to report an injury from the date you knew, or should have known, you had the injury.  Repetitive Trauma cases like carpal tunnel or others can be tricky as to the 90 day requirement. Note: the longer you wait to report any injury the more likely it is the insurance company will use the delay against you.

How Long Do I have to File  a Claim for Workers’ Compensation?

In South Carolina you have two (2) years to file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. This is NOT the same as reporting it to your job or to the insurance company. You MUST establish a claim with the Workers Comp Commission in Columbia, SC. 

My Employer Says He Doesn’t Have Workers Comp Insurance. What do I do?

If an employer has 4 or more regularly employed workers then he/she must carry workers comp insurance coverage.  If they do not, then there is a State Fund set up to pay these claims and the employer will have to reimburse that Fund for your on the job injury.  You are still protected but will likely need a lawyer to assist.

My Employer Says I am an independent Contractor So I don’t get Workers Comp. Is this true?

Depends.  Many employers think that simply because they pay someone under a 1099 form that makes them an independent contractor. This is not true.  There is a test in South Carolina to determine if you are in fact an independent contractor (no comp) or a statutory employer (yes comp) and all centers around your boss’s control of you.  The 4 factors are:

  1. Direct Evidence of Right or Exercise of Control- I.e. Who sets work schedule, who tells you where to go, who tells you what to do, etc.
  2. Method of Payment- Cash, Check
  3. Furnishing of Equipment or Tools
  4. Right to Fire The Injured Worker

Who Pays My Medical Care for an On the Job Injury?

If the claim is accepted then the insurance company “should” pay 100% of all casually related authorized medical care. This means any doctors they send you to that they should pay the bill. If you are getting an invoice for any amount this may not be correct.

Can I Pick My Own Doctor?

Not if you want workers’ comp to pay the bill.  If it is an admitted case then you have must go to their doctor in order to have that bill paid. I am of the mindset you are always entitled to go to your own doctor but don’t expect that bill to be paid by the workers comp insurance carrier.

What if I have Other Questions that Aren’t Answered here?

That’s easy.  Schedule a free workers comp injury consultation where I will personally sit down with you and answer all of your questions.

I’ve Been Injured at Work. What do I do?

I’ve Been Injured at Work. What do I do?

When people are injured on the job they are not thinking about their workers’ compensation claim and how to protect their legal rights. Instead they are worried about their health and their injury.  The worker who gets injured on the job is now placed in an unfamiliar system dominated by big business and the insurance industry.  Below are a few things that one may wish to do or consider after a work injury. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and the proper course of action should be to get a free consultation with an experienced South Carolina Workers’ Comp lawyer.

Report the Job Injury

In South Carolina you have 90 days to report an injury on the job. However, if you wait this long then the insurance company or the employer may not believe you were injured on the job.  Many workers get injured and think it is minor and don’t want to file a claim so they wait to report.  Don’t wait!  You can report it right away and it doesn’t mean you have to pursue the claim. It simply protects you. As a lawyer, I like it in writing if possible. Too many times a supervisor “cannot remember‘ the worker reporting the injury.  It is very easy to send a text message or email to your boss. “hey I just hurt my back lifting a crate”.  Simple, to the point and covers you in the event memory fades.

Request Medical Care

In South Carolina an employer or carrier is supposed to send you for medical care but lately I have seen a trend where the position is taken that the injured worker didn’t request medical care.  If you have been injured at work and think you need to see a doctor then ask for it- “I injured my back lifting a crate. I’d like to see a doctor. Will you send me to one?”  Remember in South Carolina the employer or the insurance carrier has the right to pick the doctor so if you go on your own to the doctor without letting them know you could be stuck with that medical bill.

Pay Attention to ALL Body Parts

So many times people have multiple injuries but one hurts the worst so they focus on that injury.  I injured my back lifting a crate but the pain goes down their legs and they don’t report it. Instead state I hurt my back lifting at work and the pain goes down my legs. That way you are fully protected as to all of your injured body parts.

Medical Records Tell the Story

Many times an employee says he/she was hurt at work and the employer says that the employee was not.  Most times a workers’ comp Commissioner will look to the medical records and specifically the first record(s) to see what the injured worker reported. If there is no mention of a work injury then that can harm the case. Your  medical records should always say how you were injured and what (list all) body parts you injured.

Get a Free Consultation with a Workers’ Comp Lawyer

Many lawyers (like us) offer a free consultation.  Take advantage of this to discuss your claim.  See if you meet with an actual lawyer or instead the lawyer sends an “intake specialist” or an “investigator”.   See if the meeting is a sales pitch and an attempt to get your case or see if the lawyer is actually discussing the facts of your case and answering your questions. You have nothing to lose by at least finding out your rights so do not wait. Schedule this free meeting now.

Can I file a Workers’ Comp Claim if I was at Fault?

Greenville and Columbia Workers’ Comp Lawyer

Fault doesn’t Matter  in Workers’ Comp

I used to represent insurance carriers and now I represent injured people all over the State of South Carolina.  One of the main questions I receive in a workers’ compensation claim is whether or not the injured worker can file a work comp claim if it was the employee’s fault. The other question is whether or not an injured worker can “sue” their employer because it was the employer’s fault for the injury. The short answer is that an insurance company  cannot deny your claim if the accident is your fault and you cannot sue your employer if it was their  fault.  The South Carolina Workers’ Comp system is a “no fault” system.

A “No Fault System” means whether the accident was due to an accident or due to an actual violation of a work safety rule it is still a compensable (work related) accident under the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Act. The fault of an injured worker should have no bearing on the right to benefits. See the case of   Jones v. Harold Arnold’s Sentry Buick, 376 S.C. 375, 656 S.E.2d 772 (S.C. App. 2008).  Like every rule there are some exceptions: horseplay, substantial deviation, fighting, intentional injury, etc.

My Comp Case is Denied- Why?

Sometimes there really is not clear answer. We have clients that come to us with a  denied case with and without reason.  Generally speaking a work injury should be covered if it was in the scope of employment and in furtherance of company business.  Sometimes preexisting conditions are denied until a doctor says there was an aggravation. Sometimes work comp claims are denied “in order to investigate”.  And sometimes they are denied for no reason whatsoever.

An  Injury Lawyer Can Help

A lawyer that knows the South Carolina Workers Comp’  Act can assist you to make sure you get medical care, weekly wage benefits and possibly a  settlement at the end. Injury lawyers work on a contingency fee which  means if you don’t win your case and get money at the end then you wont owe them an attorney fee.  Why would you not take advantage of a workers comp free consultation?  Who is protecting you?